Confusion, tension ensues over Monroe County Legislature Minority Leader position

Local Politics

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Questions about who is the Monroe County Legislature’s Minority Leader are still causing tension during legislative meetings.

Democratic members of the legislature questioned who Legislature President Joe Carbone recognizes in the role during Tuesday night’s meeting. Some Democrats claim their pick for Minority Leader isn’t being recognized, and tensions ran high when they questioned the president about the matter.

The division itself stems from the vote on the Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner which took place in August. Following that disagreement, members of the Democratic caucus chose Yversha Roman to be the Minority Leader.

MORE | Monroe County legislators appoint Jackie Ortiz as Elections Commissioner

Vince Felder, the Minority Leader at that time of the vote, says that vote wasn’t done in a legal manner. He claims that his term as Minority Leader doesn’t expire until January 2021, regardless of the caucus vote.

According to the rules, I am the leader until then,” Felder said. “They did change the rules to say the leader serves at the pleasure of the caucus, but that was after I took office, so that doesn’t apply to me as a minority leader — that would apply to whoever comes after me.”

Roman, however, says she is without question the current Minority Leader. In a statement to News 8 Wednesday, Roman said:

“Dr. Carbone continues to not acknowledge the will of the Democratic Caucus.  The Majority of the Caucus has chosen a new leader and we have made this clear on multiple occasions.  There is no question pertaining to who the leader is of the Democratic caucus. I implore you to ask any of it’s members. Historically speaking when a change of leadership has occurred that new leader was given the respect to be able to do the work needed on the behalf of the Caucus.  Unfortunately, that is not the case here.  Dr. Carbone continues to deliberately ignore the will of the members of the Democratic caucus because it is more politically opportunistic for him to do so. Furthermore, last night he welcomed a lawsuit that would cost taxpayers.  Overall, this isn’t a matter of confusion, the Democratic caucus, community and the County Administration have acknowledged the change in leadership because I was voted to be the new leader. Democracy is tied to having the ability to vote.  Nationally, we are seeing this very type of behavior, the microcosm in county government is allowing for an “old’ leader to represent the caucus that ousted him.  The intentional behavior of Dr.Carbone will continue to allow one-sided political antics for the republican led legislature and their allies.  It is not allowing me to do my job of representing the Democratic Caucus in various endeavors. Yesterday, we saw that play out with appointments made, by Vince Felder, to the re-naming committee of the County Airport, as leader of a caucus he has not had communication with in months.”

MORE | Monroe County Democratic lawmakers remain split over Legislature Minority Leader

After the role of Minority Leader was called into question Tuesday, during the appointment of members to a county committee, president Carbone’s spokesperson released this statement:

“Last night the Monroe County Legislature unanimously confirmed appointments to the Advisory Committee that will provide guidance and oversight of the renaming process for the Frederick Douglass – Greater Rochester International Airport. The bipartisan Committee is comprised of a diverse group of individuals and subject-matter experts, including Robert Benz, co-founder of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. 

The creation of this Committee was unanimously approved by the Legislature over two months ago and allowed each legislative leader to make appointments. While Legislator Roman claims to be the Minority Leader, she failed to act as such by not submitting recommendations to this Committee. On the contrary, Minority Leader Felder was diligent in providing his recommendations.”

Carbone suggested if the Democratic members felt unjustly treated, then they should sue him: A suggestion that some members called “attractive.”

MORE | Democratic dispute over leadership in Monroe County Legislature could be heading to the courts

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