Below is a copy of Chris’ comments at the forum:

“Thank you to Southeast Works, People Inc. and DDAWNY for hosting this event. I believe this is the third time I’ve been before you, twice as a candidate for Erie County Clerk and now for the State Senate.

In my role as Erie County Clerk I have tried to be a partner with DDAWNY, People Inc. and EC Office of the Disabled wherever possible. One successful partnership we have done is hosting specific outreach days at our Auto Bureau for the disabled community to facilitate obtaining non-driver identification. We open-up our Northtown AB on a Saturday, just for those in the Developmental Disability Community to be able to create an easy and comfortable setting to attain legal identification. Just to let folks know we are holding another such outreach—in partnership with EC office of the Disabled — on Saturday Oct 15th at our NorthTown Auto Bureau from 9-12pm. I have flyers here I will make available.

If elected to the State Senate, I look forward to continuing to be both a partner and advocate for the Developmental Disabled Community. In that regard I wanted to touch on a few pressing issues:

1. The bFair2DirectCare Campaign…I am fully supportive of this effort. The funding for direct care professionals comes from the state, so if they state is now mandating increases in wages they must also come up with increases in funding. I strongly believe this increase will be a win-win for both the direct care professionals and those they serve, due to the unacceptably low wages paid the turnover of direct care professionals is extremely high –about 30% — this lack of employment stability is detrimental to those they serve. Increased pay will improve both the lives of these workers and those they serve.

2. We must end the moratorium on new group homes and residential services. I recently attended the DDAWNY meeting where attorney Bruce Goldstein discussed the potential class action lawsuit –on the basis that the moratorium violates the federal American for Disabilities Act and violates the New York State Constitution. I am fully supportive of this lawsuit but I hope the Governor acts without legal action due to the fact that over 2,000 individuals sit on the Residential Registry List just in our region.

3. Finally, as October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month, I am committed to working with you to dramatically increase the employment opportunities for the Developmental Disabled community in the Public, Non-Profit, and Private Sector. This effort needs to be a broad-based community campaign to create more job opportunities in integrated settings and address both the opportunities and impediments to this goal. One impediment is transportation, which needs to be bolstered both in terms of public transportation and in terms of private transportation. In terms of private transportation, I believe the passage of rideshare legislation in New York to allow Uber and Lyft will be an great additional transportation resource…I am committed to getting such legislation passed in Albany.

Again, I look forward to working with you and advocating for you if elected to the Senate. Thank you.”