ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello discussed a wide range of topics Friday following a groundbreaking ceremony at Seneca Park Zoo, touching on the recent spike in violent crime, Tuesday’s primary election results, Rochester’s new mayor-to-be, the status of the county’s COVID-19 state of emergency, and more.
There has been an increase in violent crime across the nation in 2021, including in the City of Rochester, where there has been 34 homicides this year — more than all of 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The city is currently on pace for its highest homicide rate since at least 2012 and the Rochester Police Department has requested federal assistance as they try to target known violent offenders.
The county executive said the issue of violence will need to be addressed by all levels of the community, from government, law enforcement, and citizens.
“Crime has become a real problem here in the community,” Bello said. “We are having a shooting almost daily, far too many people are losing their lives, and something has to be done. Yesterday the sheriff announced Operation Guardian, which we’re happy to be apart of, and to marshal all the resources from every county department, every law enforcement agency, and community partners most importantly, to attack this problem from several different areas, because there’s no one silver bullet.
“Law enforcement can’t solve this by themselves,” Bello said. “There has to be law enforcement presence, but they also need that support that can come from al the various county departments that we have. We’re happy to be a part of this collaboration, and it’s needed because people are literally dying almost every day in our community. It’s a tragedy every time someone loses their life to senseless violence.
“People live in neighborhoods where there’s gunfire erupting daily,” Bello said. “There are kids who can’t play outside because they don’t feel it’s safe and we have a responsibility to do something about it.
COVID-19 state of emergency
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York’s COVID-19 state of emergency expired Thursday, due to decreasing coronavirus metrics and increasing vaccination rates.
Monroe County’s COVID-19 state of emergency, however, is still in effect and has been since March 13, 2020. Despite the decline in local COVID-19 rates, the county executive said he expects the state of emergency to remain in effect until at least July 11, due to an executive order designed to help local restaurants.
“We’re still under state of emergency here and our state of emergency expires on July 11,” Bello said. It’s tied to an executive order related to third-party deliver fees. If you recall, about six or seven months ago I think, it was us recognizing that restaurants have been severely impacted and I think we all know that restaurants have been one of the most severely impacted industries by the pandemic.
“We put an executive order in place tied to that state of emergency to cap those third party delivery fees,” Bello said. “So that is tied to the state of emergency that will expire on July 11 and we’ll revisit that then.”
That executive order limited the amount of fees that third-party delivery services could charge local restaurants when indoor dining was closed and more restaurants relied on delivery to stay afloat.
Primary election results
Tuesday’s primary elections brought a lot of changes to the local political scene, especially for the Monroe County Legislature where the Black and Asian caucus incumbents suffered several defeats. Those results puts the current 20-seat, veto-proof super majority at risk of losing their power after November’s general election.
The county executive said the results were due to voters being attuned to what was happening in county government.
“I think what we saw this past Tuesday was the public saying ‘enough is enough,’ with people being obstructionists, and talking about power for the sake of power,” Bello said. “We’ve just gone through the hardest 15 or 16 months this community has gone through, I think in all of our life times. We’re coming out of this pandemic in a state of economic crisis and people are looking for elected officials who want to work together.
“What we’ve had over the last year or so is a legislature that isn’t looking to partner, but looking to obstruct,” Bello said. “Voters spoke loud and clear on Tuesday that they’re not looking for obstruction, they’re looking for partners. If we took a lesson out of this pandemic one of the lessons is that we can do almost anything if we’re doing it together from all different parties, politics, levels of government, and community organizations.
“If we put all our barriers and walls aside, we can accomplish anything,” Bello said. “We just beat a global pandemic here and I think we did it, and we came out of this a lot better than other places around the country and certainly around the world. I think now we need to shift and focus on the recovery, and that was evidenced in the primaries.”
Rochester’s new mayor-to-be
Rochester City Councilmember Malik Evans defeated Incumbent Lovely Warren in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, and did so convincingly with 66% of the vote. The county executive said he spoke with Evans this week and he’s eager to work with him in a city-county partnership to address city crime and other issues.
“We had a brief conversation about really pledging to work together, and be partners in this,” Bello said. “Crime is a big issue in the city and the city is crying out for help right now and we pledged to work together and to be partners and really turn things around to help folks who work in the city, and I’m looking forward to working with him in January.”