Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, who began his term in office 18 months ago, delivered his first State of the County address Monday.
It was a look back at a tumultuous year and also a look ahead to what comes next.
Bello gave his speech at Seabreeze Amusement Park, meant to symbolize how that park and many other venues were shut down last year due to COVID-19 but are now reopening as the county gets out from under the impact of the pandemic with the help of vaccines.
Bello mentioned a number of ways the county has tried to help people and businesses recover, particularly small businesses, noting that last year, the county loaned $2 million to businesses at 0% interest.
“I’m announcing those $2 million we loaned to struggling businesses in April 2020 will be converted to grants. If those funds were used on COVID related needs they don’t need to repay those funds back, and our team will work with business owners, and we’re going to make that happen,” Bello said.
Bello also talked about efforts for his0 administration to provide better mental health and addiction services, as well as infrastructure improvements at county parks.
Bello also discussed ways to bring services closer to the people who need them, such as placing county staff at the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center to help veterans who need various kinds of programs. "We will embed Veterans Service Agency support at Anthony Jordan, to screen veterans during health care visits. A staff member in our Veterans Service Agency will meet with those veterans onsite and work to get them all the veterans they have earned," Bello said.
The Democrat also called on the county legislature to back changes in the county ethics code.
“Tonight, I renew that call for bipartisanship and cooperation. I sent you all legislation that will codify the recommendations of the Monroe County board of ethics that will, among other things, update the ethics code to prohibit sexual harassment by county employees and elected officials. Let’s get it done now,” Bello said.
Democratic county legislators introduced a bill in April that would provide stricter definitions and penalties regarding sexual harassment, but that bill was tabled last month.
Republican Majority Leader Steve Brew released a statement after the address saying "the Legislature has worked to accomplish many of the goals the County Executive takes credit for." Brew also claimed that Bello’s term has been “riddled with partisanship” and division.