Recap: NY Senate District 55 Forum

October 8, 2020

On September 29th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for New York Senate District 55, which covers parts of Monroe and Ontario Counties, to replace State Senator Rich Funke. The forum took place on Zoom ahead of the general election on November 3rd. NYLCVEF regularly holds candidate forums to provide voters with the opportunity to hear directly from candidates about their stance on important sustainability issues. The Senate D55 forum featured candidates Christopher Missick and Samra Brouk. The forum was moderated by Jeremy Moule, staff writer at Rochester’s CITY newspaper.


Christopher Missick is an Iraq War veteran who works as a lawyer, farmer, and winemaker. During the forum, he emphasized that his livelihood is dependent on the environment and cited his use of sustainable farming practices as well as his experience working with regulations as a lawyer. He would support bills to increase funding for wind and solar energy, along with the battery technology needed to store it. He also spoke of the need to protect water quality in the area and move away from fossil fuels, acknowledging renewables as the long term answer to our energy needs. Missick supports nuclear energy as long as it is being produced safely.

When asked what the government can do to cut emissions from the agriculture sector, he suggested planting trees on old farmland and creating incentives to diversify crop selection to improve soil health. Missick believes it is necessary to focus on educating the public about environmental issues. To address climate inequity, he suggested adding community cooling centers and the creation of empowerment zones to help rebuild economically distressed areas. Missick supports providing tax incentives and education on a classroom level to drive composting and food scrap collection. 

Samra Brouk is a former Peace Corps volunteer who currently builds nonprofits and startups. During the forum, she emphasized the importance of taking bold action on climate change and climate justice, stressing the need to improve the quality of life in underprivileged areas in conjunction with climate legislation. Brouk mentioned the importance of working with grassroots organizations and advocated for more public-private partnerships. Brouk recently visited Lake Ontario, where she observed and learned about the local effects of climate change. She cited her experience volunteering in Guatemala and working with local governments to create Climate Smart Communities (CSCs). If elected, she would advocate for increased climate resilience infrastructure and legislation that would make it easier for communities to become CSCs. Brouk would additionally support legislation to incentivize companies to create more green jobs in D55 and recruit graduates from science- and technology-focused university programs in the area.

Brouk also emphasized the need to enforce, tighten, and incentivize building codes. She believes that investing in anaerobic digesters and increasing training and education for farmers will help the agricultural sector combat climate change. To drive composting and food scrap collection, Brouk hopes to pass state level legislation and add local infrastructure. She also plans to move away from fossil fuels through government involvement, invest in clean energy, and increase education. She supports nuclear energy in conjunction with renewables. 

Both candidates support fully funding the EPF and building climate-conscious infrastructure. Missick and Brouk emphasized working with local communities on solar farms and expressed their support for wind power. They each support increased public transportation and bike capacity as alternatives to automobiles. Each candidate supported advancing a bond act and recognized the importance of fighting invasive species.

Thanks to our partners for helping to make this event a success: Citizens’ Climate Lobby Rochester and Rochester People’s Climate Coalition. Remember to cast your ballot for the general election on November 3rd via absentee ballot or at your polling place.

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