Bello announces new diversity department, County Legislature calls for more diversity in ranks

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello has announced a new department designed around the goal of racial equity.

“Today I am announcing that I have introduced a local law to the Monroe County Legislature that would amend the county charter to create a new Department of Diversity Equity and Inclusion,” Bello said.

The county executive says this newly created county department will work in tandem with the recently created RASE Commission.

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“I believe now, more than ever, that this is long overdue,” Bello said. “As I’ve said in the past, this isn’t about words, it’s about actions. It has always been my intention to usher in a new way of doing business.”

In addition to a renewed focus on methods for recruitment of racial and ethnic minorities, women, veterans, persons who identify as LGBTQ, and persons with disabilities, the department will also review and monitor County contracting and procurement procedures. According to the County, a Chief Diversity Officer will also work to develop and implement initiatives to foster diversity, supervise equal employment opportunity functions, oversee Minority/Women owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) selection procedures, and investigate internal complaints of discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, and unequal treatment.

“This legislation will be a powerful tool in moving our community forward,” said Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler (D-Rochester). “It’s sends a message that Monroe County values all of its residents and wants to provide opportunity to everyone.”

“It’s important that we are clear that what we’re doing is not just for show, it’s not just window dressings, that we are committed to making serious, concrete changes in the way Monroe County does business,” said Monroe County Legislator Vince Felder (D-Rochester). “Its very important that we have concrete measurable results.”

Bello says the new department won’t cost the county any additional resources.

“We were able to create this department, by looking at vacated, but funded positions around the county and re-utilizing them,” Bello said. “So we were able to do this at no additional expense to the County budget.”

And Tuesday afternoon at a separate event, the Monroe County Legislature announced bipartisan legislation also focused on promoting diversity in government ranks. Members called for the creation of a Diversity Action Plan, and a Diversity Action Plan Advisory Committee.

“The Monroe County workforce should reflect the community it serves,” says County Legislator Ernest Flagler Mitchell (D-Rochester), a co-sponsor of the legislation, along with Legislator Matthew Terp (R-Webster).

“The proposed diversity action plan will develop a program to promote professional development with an eye towards growth and retention in leadership,” says President Dr. Joe Carbone (R-Irondequoit).

That committee will be comprised of two legislators, two citizens, and a diversity officer appointed by Executive Bello. Legislator Vince Felder applauding the move on both sides of the aisle saying, “This is not really a Democrat or Republican issue. This is really an issue of fairness and equity of all people.”

Both the diversity department announced by Bello, and the motion from the legislature will be voted on at a later date.

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