Laura Salamendra is challenging for a seat on Geneva’s City Council to represent Ward 5 come January 1st, 2020.
Salamendra is an activist with the Geneva Women’s Assembly, a former board member with We are Seneca Lake and founder of the Foundry Action Committee.
She promises to fight on behalf of Ward 5 and the rest of Geneva.
“I am continually inspired to fight back for Ward 5 because of the people who live there,” Salamendra said.
Salamendra says that when people are willing to fight for their futures, she believes that they deserve proper representation and is “willing and prepared” to be an advocate for Ward 5 at City Council.
After rallying alongside nearly a million other protesters with the We are Seneca Lake movement, Salamendra returned to Geneva with grave concerns about environmental health risks in her community, which eventually led to the formation of the Foundry Action Committee.
“I remember with the Geneva Women’s Assembly and we were out canvassing. We were finally delivering this information in Spanish and mothers were reading it for the first-time that their yards were filled with lead and arsenic. They were grabbing their kids and were afraid,” she said.
Although the continual fight for justice may seem to be a polarizing situation for the general public, Salamendra recognizes a clear disconnect in Geneva, one where the residents of Ward 5 are marginalized, devalued and unheard.
“Our lives are unlivable in Ward 5,” she stated.
“You start to really see the way that people and their opinions are excluded from government,” Salamendra shared.
Those unlivable conditions for Salamendra take many shapes: difficulties in accessing food, public transportation, healthcare, childcare and safe-affordable housing as well as reforming disciplinary procedures and protocols within the public-school system.
Salamendra believes that Wards 5 and 6 reside within a food desert, one that warrants a swift resolution.
“At the very least this is an emergency and it doesn’t mean that we need more programs that bring people food. People want dignity and the freedom to access a grocery store,” she said.
The solution for Salamendra is to call for a commitment to introduce a grocery store in Ward 6 that residents in Ward 5 may shop at for convenience, but she also wishes to fund more community gardening beds.
As for daycare, she acknowledges the visceral pressures that working-class parents face in finding quality coverage for their children, especially outside the typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday schedule.
“We have a real problem with daycare. Waiting lists for daycares are three-years. How are people supposed to work and support their families when there is no one to watch kids?,” Salamendra asked.
Salamendra is very passionate about protecting the Geneva Lakefront but also developing greater access for Wards 5 and 6 residents as well.
“There’s no reason that people who live in Ward 5 and 6 should have to on a hot day, walk with their children all the way out and then down 5&20 when they could just cross the street,” Salamendra stated.
Despite the many problems Salamendra sees that plagues families and communities in Geneva, she remains hopeful and believes that she has shown her dedication and commitment to the city and all of its residents.
“Basically, just that I have lived these things,” she stated.
“We have been thinking about this and we’ve been trying to be heard by this City Council for the last four-years and they ignored us; and so now, we will be heard,” Salamendra concluded.
Listen to the full-conversation with Salamendra below:
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to WEOS and WHWS Station Manager Greg Cotterill for sharing Geneva Candidate Snapshots with FingerLakes1.com.
More from ‘Candidate Snapshot’ series exclusively on FingerLakes1.com:
– Juanita Aikens looks to bring better representation to Geneva City Hall (Ward 6)
– Bryan Housel brings public safety background to campaign for Geneva City Council (Ward 5)
– Pitifer takes life journey onto Geneva mayoral campaign trail (Mayor)
– Salamendra targets change through more than activism (Ward 5)
– Gomez shares story as he looks to represent Geneva (Ward 5)
– Reporting & Photos by Gabriel Pietrorazio
An undergraduate student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Pietrorazio has written for the Town Times of Watertown, Connecticut and Finger Lakes Times in Geneva, New York. He’s currently a reporter for FL1 News, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.