On the Issues
How am I going to pay my bills?
Issue — Unemployment is high and still rising. We hear about it every day and many of us in our District are living this nightmare.
Solutions Kim will work for — There is no single solution to arresting the damage COVID-19 has caused. Here is what we can do:
Create a package of potential remedies that work for our area. Let’s hear your voice. District 61 is highly varied in terms of demographics. We need a concerted effort to source talent inside District 61.
A series of Town Hall meetings that will allow us to build our own unique package of solutions. Our diversity means more good ideas.
Proactively engage a candid dialog between our business community organizations and workforce development agencies.
Can I see a doctor when I need to?
Problem - Access to quality health care is problematic and hospitals are being forced to close especially in rural areas.
Solutions Kim will work for-
Support the NYS Health Act
Hospitals and clinics must be protected and not become a feeding-frenzy for Private Equity Groups profiting handsomely on those structures for apartments/office space and the like.
For over thirty years, I built my career working to improve healthcare policy and access, witnessing first-hand the inadequacies of our current healthcare system. While the number of uninsured and underinsured in New York State is declining, those numbers don’t tell the real story that I witnessed in my work in the Department of Public Health in Monroe County. Because health insurance does not always give access to the care that people need. In fact, New Yorkers today experience less access and pay more for healthcare than they did a year ago. Those insurance numbers don’t tell the story of how the lack of healthcare access leads to preventable hospitalizations and even fatalities. Those numbers don’t tell the story of people working well beyond their retirement years, despite having chronic illness, just to keep their health coverage that is way too expensive. Those numbers don’t tell the story of a critical lack of access to mental health services, particularly in rural areas, which have seen an alarming spike in suicide rates. Those numbers don’t tell the story of people who stay in jobs that underpay and undervalue them just to keep their health insurance. Those numbers don’t tell the story of people who must travel long distances to find providers who accept their too often substandard health insurance. As your representative, I will carry your voices and stories with me. I will fight for healthcare reform that gives all New Yorkers access to the quality, affordable care that they deserve. I will fight for a New York Health Act that recognizes the unique needs of rural communities. As your representative, I will demand healthcare justice and reform now!
How do I know I won’t lose my home?
Problem- We were experiencing a Statewide Housing Crisis before COVID and it is now worse.
“How do I know I won’t be thrown out of my house or my apartment”?
Solutions Kim will work for- A Housing Stability Platform that will work for all.
Better Tenant rights
Property Tax Cap
More Affordable Housing Units
Re-visit and re-evaluate Manufactured Homes Regulations
Housing (sigh). An issue near and dear to my heart. During my many years of activism I have fought hard for housing justice in Western New York, often working 20 hour days during budget season and marching the halls of the Capital to advocate for the resources our families and our communities need to provide stable housing to all. And we have had some big wins, including the historic passage of new and permanent tenant protections for Western New Yorkers. But it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough when everyday homes are going into foreclosure because families can’t afford their property taxes. Particularly in Genesee County where the number of foreclosures are higher than the state average. And it isn’t enough when more than 46% of renters in Western New York pay more than 30% of their income in rent and over a quarter of them pay more than 50%. It isn’t enough when we are seeing an increase in homelessness. And it isn’t enough when too many people live in substandard housing. So the fight isn’t over, and that’s why I will continue to work toward Housing Justice for All! I will demand our fair share of resources and fight against the impact of unfunded mandates - municipalities should not be burdened with the choice of caring for our economically challenged or raising property taxes. I will work to build upon the successes we have had--and the policies I helped to shape and win--advocating for even better tenant protections and local housing resources. Only this time, I will be working from the inside, representing you! Despite gains, New York State continues to have a housing crisis and as the representative for District 61, Housing Justice for All will continue to be a key part of my agenda!
Will the NY school system meet my child’s educational needs?
Issue - COVID has exacerbated our public education crisis and each school district is challenged.
Solutions Kim will work for- Our future is set by our actions today.
Working with each school district, the immediate need is to carefully research each school district inside District 61 and understand their specific, unique, pressure-points.
Insist we re-evaluate how public education funds are dispersed.
As a lifelong resident of Western New York, I am a proud graduate of the New York State Public School System. The education that I received in Rochester prepared me for my college education, my graduate studies, and helped me to become a leader in my communities.
Public schools shape the diversity of our worldview and positively impact the communities that surround them. We feel great pride when our schools do well in statewide and national competitions. They are often spaces we turn to for public gatherings. They provide us a sense of connection to one another. Public schools are important anchors in our communities.
But in this moment, our public schools are challenged and threatened. We are threatened by charter schools - private institutions that unfairly drain public funds from our schools. We are threatened by inadequate and inequitable funding. In District 61 alone, we have 25 different school districts with a wide variety of issues that are based on size, student needs, declining populations, resources, and contributions of the surrounding communities. WE know this, but the state has yet to fully meet their financial obligations to our public schools, let alone alter their funding formula in order to accurately assess real needs. The number of students needing individualized education plans (IEP) and the populations of English language learners are increasing, while state resources are not keeping up with changes or needs. This leaves school systems and teachers struggling to find adequate resources to serve the needs of their students. The state’s failure to fully fund Foundation Aid burdens taxpayers, and fails our children. This is unacceptable!
I will fight for Foundation Aid to be fully funded and to bring the resources we deserve back to our children and our communities. The future of our kids and the well-being of our community is at stake!
How can we get clean air for healthy people and a healthy planet?
Problem - How do we reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Solutions Kim will work for-
As our communities rebuild, we do so with the best of technology today that can meaningfully and positively impact these wonderful communities we live in.
We prioritize “Local Labor First” and “Buy Local”
We monitor the NYSCLCPA to ensure we receive our fair share
As a current supporter of the Rochester People's Climate Coalition and advocate for environmental justice, I know that climate change is a threat to our lives and livelihoods today, and to future generations. In fact, climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. 11% of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including droughts, floods, heatwaves, extreme weather events, and sea-level rise. Right here in the heart of District 61 is Genesee County – a county where farmers and residents face the daily threats that climate change poses to agriculture.
With the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) in 2019, New York State is leading the nation in tackling climate change. The CCLPA sets bold targets for carbon emission reduction and renewable energy production and has the potential to create many new good-paying jobs. But as we transition to a clean energy economy, we need to make sure that no one is left behind! Farmers know that they must do what’s necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change– but reducing emissions and producing renewable energy takes money and resources. Will our farmers receive their fair share and will they be fairly compensated for the crucial role that they play in climate change mitigation? As your Representative I will ensure that we are not only a part of the decision-making process, but I will also:
Fight to bring economic development funding and good-paying green economy jobs to Western New York.
Work closely with our district’s vulnerable, low-income, and frontline communities to ensure that this transition is truly just.
Work closely with our district’s agricultural and small business communities to ensure that this transition will work for and not against them.
Addressing the climate crisis presents one of the greatest opportunities that we have in reimagining and reinvigorating our economy. I want to make sure that Western New York, with our many natural
resources, sees great benefits from the coming green economy in New York State.
Kim Smith is a Leader Who Serves