We were honored to have Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle as our third presenter in our Commons Speaker Series. He was the first speaker to address topics relating to civic engagement, local government, advocacy and activism. The design behind the speaker series is to present a variety of local experts in the areas found throughout Harley, but brought together physically in the Commons–mindfulness/empathy, civic engagement/democratic process, environmental sustainability, and hands-on projects which foster collaboration and critical thinking. It seemed apropos to bring in a politician during November, right after an election. Supervisor Moehle was a generous and open speaker with the small group gathered Tuesday evening. The weather might have been daunting and intimidating, but Bill Moehle was warm and humble as he described his job working to support Brighton and the greater Rochester area.
The setting was casual and more like a fireside chat than a presentation. A wide variety of topics were discussed:
Millennials — “Millennials have recognized that the world is changing–has changed.”
Incentive zoning — “Incentive zoning is a wonderful tool” and reference to a storm water management project (using phosphate-retaining soil developed by Cornell) and new trail systems
Environmental efforts — “Brighton was the first suburban town in Monroe County to ban fracking, secondary fracking and individual processes related to storage”–”Electric charging stations will likely be installed at Town Hall by June.”
Diversity — “Diversity is an important community amenity”
Civil Rights — Brighton will adopt its own GENDA law even if New York State doesn’t pass it. (You can read more here)
Recent election — “There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to be confused by the facts.”
Poverty – When asked if he was unique as a town supervisor in terms of seeing a suburb’s obligation to the city regarding the huge concentration of poverty in Rochester, he said he was not alone in his efforts and referenced others strongly involved in Unite Rochester (@UniteRochester) to address affordable housing and educational equity, most notably, Mark Assini in Gates.
The evening’s discussion served as a meaningful look into the world of local politics and community efforts to improve our area. It also will serve as a great point of reference when we hear from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter in December as she speaks about the democratic process at the national level.