Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello on Friday said he wants to restore a bipartisan organization called the Council of Governments.
Bello, who is challenging County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo in November's election, said the council included town, city and school leaders who worked together on nonpolitical issues. It was created by former County Executive Jack Doyle in 2000, and Bello says it was disbanded a few years ago.
Bello said Rochester needs to think regionally, and one way to do that is to revive the council.
"The many challenges throughout our communities cannot be solved if everyone is working in their own silos and if we’re driven by politics over community," Bello said.
Henrietta Town Supervisor Steve Schultz joined Bello for the announcement. He said he supports a new council but noted that it can’t work without support from county leadership.
"I also know as a town supervisor that you get incredibly busy," Schultz said. "If there isn’t a leader at the county or some area pulling it all together, it’s easy to see how it dissolved."
WXXI News reached out to Dinolfo’s campaign committee for comment on Friday but has not yet received a response.
Former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson served on the initial Council of Governments. He said the council or a similar concept could be useful today.
“I think the idea has merit because there are probably greater challenges now," Johnson said. "There’s less money. There’s greater need. The population of Monroe County is much more diverse.”
He said he has long believed in the need to think regionally on issues like the area’s shrinking school-age population, demographic changes and the growing need for affordable housing.
“It was never designed to be a place for politics," Johnson said of the former council. "It was designed to be a place where politics could be set aside.”
Johnson said that didn’t always happen and there were tensions between the parties on the council, but he is optimistic that compromise is possible among a new generation of leaders.