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Another opportunity

A dozen years ago, Maggie Brooks’ Election Day triumph created the opportunity for fellow Republican Cheryl Dinolfo to be appointed Monroe County clerk. In that position, Ms. Dinolfo won three elections.

Now, another victory at the polls has brought a new opportunity for Ms. Dinolfo: She will succeed Ms. Brooks as the county’s top executive.

In some important ways, the challenges awaiting Ms. Dinolfo are very similar to those Ms. Brooks faced when taking office in January 2004. The county has serious fiscal issues, and its economic prospects are uncertain.

Democrat Sandra Frankel, the former Brighton town supervisor who ran against Ms. Dinolfo in this year’s race, tried to persuade voters that the Republicans were squarely to blame for these problems. Most voters, however, did not buy that argument.

To be sure, Albany mandates are a big factor in county finances. Likewise, government has limited control over many forces that impact the local economy.

At the same time, voters expect elected leaders to manage wisely and, within the boundaries of what they do control, deliver results.

On the fiscal front, pointing a finger at Albany is fully justified but not sufficient. All counties statewide must deal with unfunded mandates, but according to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Monroe County has the highest level of fiscal stress. Clearly, more needs to be done.

On economic development, Ms. Dinolfo promised to launch a job creation leadership forum to “put a shoulder to the common wheel.” She also vowed to hold accountable businesses that receive county support in exchange for promised jobs. Ms. Dinolfo will have the chance to follow through on her promises.

A final thought: While Ms. Dinolfo’s win was impressive, it should be noted that less than 20 percent of the county’s registered voters cast a ballot for her. Reaching out to those who did not is another opportunity she should embrace.

11/6/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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