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Poughkeepsie, NY … On Tuesday, July 7th from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Dutchess County will hold a virtual forum titled “A Listening Town Hall: People of Color Sharing their Experiences in Dutchess County.” The forum will be hosted by County Executive Marc Molinaro, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, the Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights and the Northern Dutchess NAACP. The event will be held via Zoom, live streamed on the County’s Facebook page and will give community members the platform and opportunity to speak directly to dozens of elected officials and share their stories about their experiences here in Dutchess County. For those wanting to speak, registration is required and individuals can sign up at DutchessNY.gov/ListeningTownHall
Former United State Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will also participate in the Listening Town Hall to share his experience and speak to the importance of this event. Secretary Johnson is a former Dutchess County resident who served in the Obama Administration as General Counsel of the Department of Defense and the fourth Secretary of Homeland Security in US history.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “As elected officials it is our responsibility to hear those who too often feel underserved, left behind or ignored. This moment requires soul searching and introspection as individuals and as a community. Our goal for this town hall is to listen, really listen, to what our neighbors have to say about their perspective, experience and concern. It is my sincere hope this will help foster a real dialogue, and we can come away with ideas to improve and move forward as a community.”
Those individuals who would like to share their experiences must sign up prior to the event’s start time, and will be given 3 minutes to speak. Elected officials from across Dutchess County, including mayors and supervisors from every single town, city, and village, will be on the call to watch and listen to testimony shared. However, there will be limited comments from public officials to allow for as many testimonies as possible to be heard.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, “It’s a very important time for people in leadership positions like me to speak less and listen more. That’s why I’m partnering up with my friend County Executive Marcus Molinaro to host this listening session and hear about how local and federal leaders can better advocate for justice and change for Black New Yorkers during this pivotal moment in our history.”
Northern Dutchess NAACP President Elouise Maxey said, “We are excited to partner with County Executive Molinaro and Congressman Maloney to help foster more open conversation. We’re proud to give people of color a platform to speak their mind, and share their hopes and dreams with the men and women elected to represent them in government.”
Throughout the evening, community leaders who helped organize the Listening Town Hall will be available to help foster conversation and respond to any comments or questions from individuals who speak. This group includes…
- Stacey Bottoms of the Beulah Bapist Church,
- Councilwoman Yvonne Flowers of the City of Poughkeepsie,
- Bishop Debra Gause of the Holy Light Pentecostal Church,
- Jody Miller, Commissioner of the Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights,
- William Patterson, Case Manager at Nubian Directions,
- Ken Roman, Dutchess County’s Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Response, and,
- Karmen Smallwood, Dutchess County’s Assistant Commissioner of Youth Services.
All residents are welcome to listen and participate, share their stories, their suggestions, and comments.