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Rep. Mondaire Jones Leads New York Delegation Colleagues In Supporting Schumer’s Commitment to the For the People Act

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NYACK, NY – Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY) led 16 members of the New York Congressional delegation in backing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) effort to bring S.1, also known as the For the People Act, to the Senate floor in its entirety for a vote. In March, Jones was instrumental in getting the bill passed in the House.

“We write to support you in your commitment to using every power at your disposal to hold a vote on the For the People Act (S.1) in the United States Senate in June and to pass the bill before August recess,” write the lawmakers. “As you eloquently expressed at the opening of the Senate’s markup of the bill, the onslaught of anti-democratic and racist attacks on democratic participation across this nation necessitates the broad and comprehensive set of solutions found in the For the People Act. We share your steadfast opposition to any effort to eliminate core components of this critical package of reforms, like public financing and independent redistricting commissions. Together, these pillars of S.1 will strengthen and protect our democracy.”

In their letter, the lawmakers point out that New York State has already adopted several of the key reforms in the For the People Act.

– In 2019, the state enacted early voting and advanced no-excuse mail voting and same-day voter registration, both of which require state constitutional amendments.
– Last year, New York became the first state since Citizens United to enact a statewide small-donor public financing program and joined the ranks of 18 other states and Washington D.C. by passing automatic voter registration.
– Recently, the State Senate approved a rights restoration bill that would automatically restore voting rights to New Yorkers upon release from prison.

In addition to Rep. Jones, the letter is signed by Reps. Thomas Suozzi (NY-03), Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Grace Meng (NY-06), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Joe Morelle (NY-25), and Brian Higgins (NY-26).

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Senate Majority Leader Schumer:

We write to support you in your commitment to using every power at your disposal to hold a vote on the For the People Act (S.1) in the United States Senate in June and to pass the bill before August recess. As you eloquently expressed at the opening of the Senate’s markup of the bill, the onslaught of anti-democratic and racist attacks on democratic participation across this nation necessitates the broad and comprehensive set of solutions found in the For the People Act. We share your steadfast opposition to any effort to eliminate core components of this critical package of reforms, like public financing and independent redistricting commissions. Together, these pillars of S.1 will strengthen and protect our democracy.

In March, we in the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act (H.R.1). It is now time for the Senate to act on this critical civil rights legislation. We cannot miss this opportunity to protect and enhance voting rights, reduce the undue influence of Big Money in our politics and on our policies, take partisanship out of drawing district lines, and strengthen and restore the ethical rules and norms so badly damaged over the past five years.

New York State has already led the way on some of the key reforms in the For the People Act. In 2019, the state enacted early voting and advanced no-excuse mail voting and same-day voter registration, both of which require state constitutional amendments. Last year, New York became the first state since Citizens United to enact a statewide small-donor public financing program (based on New York City’s proven matching model) and joined the ranks of 18 other states and Washington D.C. by passing automatic voter registration. Recently, the State Senate approved a rights restoration bill that would automatically restore voting rights to New Yorkers upon release from prison. Over the last two years, New York has shown it is possible to restore and expand our democracy in the face of a concerted effort to weaken it.

We now have the opportunity, and obligation, to advance these same reforms nationwide, and then the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and statehood for Washington, D.C. As we tackle the challenges facing this country – including the COVID-19 pandemic and the crises it has exacerbated in employment, housing, health care, education, and more – we must ensure that America’s diverse voices will be heard in the decisions that directly impact their lives.

This will be a defining moment for Democratic leadership: in your words, “a legacy-defining choice.” We appreciate what you’ve already stated about this legislation: failure is not an option. We must now show how strongly we value a democracy that will work for all Americans by demonstrating the will to overcome any barriers standing in the way. We can still have a multiracial democracy in America, but only if we fight for it. We look forward to working with you to pass the For the People Act – with all of its core components, including small-donor public financing and independent redistricting – in the U.S. Senate by August recess. As you fulfill this historic responsibility to protect our democracy, we will have your back every step of the way.

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“Meet Our New Human Rights Commissioner” By Rockland County Executive Ed Day

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Without question Rockland County is a “melting pot” of diverse cultures and ethnicities which is exactly why my administration made sure to not rush the process of filling the critical position of Human Rights Commissioner.

We took our time combing through candidates to find the most qualified individual to protect the human rights of our residents.

That search started with an extensive recruitment process through multiple avenues including online job sites, the County of Rockland website, with assistance from the Human Rights Commission, members of the County Legislature, and many other
community members.

Once we gathered a list of leading candidates, we had them interviewed by a panel of top human rights advocates, which unanimously recommended that Spencer Chiimbwe move on to the next step of the interview process.

Most recently, Spencer worked for the County of Rockland as a Grants Specialist for our American Rescue Plan Act Department assisting local organizations and communities navigate the sometimes-complicated grant application processes. But as I share more of this Stony Point man’s background it will be easy to see why he is being appointed to this position.

Throughout his career, Spencer worked in an array of positions that solidified his fundamental understanding of government, which is crucial in this role.

He spent several years working at the ACTION Support Center, securing grants from entities like the Ford Foundation.

He spent several years working in the New York State Senate conducting legislative research and drafting policy documents.

He volunteered for Congresswoman Nita Lowey assisting with constituent services and connecting with community stakeholders.

Spencer spent 5 years working with the United African Congress inspiring community engagement and participation around key issues like health care, domestic violence, education, and empowerment.

He also served as Vice President for the When In Need Foundation, a humanitarian and philanthropic nonprofit working with disadvantaged communities.

All that experience is just the tip of the iceberg for Spencer.

I am confident his extensive experience working across cultural lines will aid him in his new role.

We expect our Human Rights Commissioner to be omnipresent, establish trust, and be proactive in helping residents facing discrimination of any kind.

My appointment of Spencer Chiimbwe as our next Commissioner has been submitted to the Rockland County Legislature and I look forward to celebrating his confirmation in the coming weeks.

I remind our residents that no one person, one department, or one group, can get the job done. The collective ownership and responsibility of protecting human rights starts and ends with every one of us.

We must all commit, as a County, to stand united against any form of hate or discrimination that surfaces.

* Column written by Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

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Rockland County Announces Senior of the Year Awards

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POMONA, NY – County Executive Ed Day and Office for the Aging Director Martha Robles honored two super seniors in Rockland Thursday for their longtime community service to helping others.

Winsome Downie Rainford was named 2022 Senior of the Year for dedicating her life to helping others overcome challenges. Rainford spent 42 years teaching political science while also serving on the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Multi-Purpose Center in Spring Valley. Winsome has also been an active member of the United Methodist Church since 1984, a Helping Hands Homeless Program volunteer, an officer in the Jamaican Civic and Cultural Association of Rockland (JAMCCAR) since its founding 32 years ago, and continues to serve as JAMCCAR’s Parliamentarian and on its Scholarship Committee.

The second honoree Mamta Arya was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Contribution by a Senior Citizen. Arya has called Rockland County home ever since she immigrated here from India in 1976. After earning her master’s degree, she spent 15 years working with people with mental illness, substance abuse, and special needs. With a passion for helping others, she went on to launch her own non-profit “Jeevan Jyoti.” The organization offers free services to seniors including learning new skills or how to take care of their aging body and mind six days a week.

“These recipients are an inspiration to us all,” said County Executive Ed Day. “And a reminder that regardless of where you come from you can make a difference.”

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