Listening Pleasure: Tompkins County Legislature Candidate Mike Koplinka-Loehr

Categories Ithaca, Politics

Mike Koplinka-Loehr, Democratic candidate for the 6th district of the Tompkins County legislature, joined Josh Brokaw of TruthSayers on WRFI News on June 13 for a 14-minute sitdown interview.

“It’s fascinating, some of the biggest issues, county-wide, most of them are in Lansing,” Koplinka-Loehr said. “The power plant, the airport may be expanding, the salt mine  be putting in a shaft, we have some of the hardest challenges and pressures regarding economic development in rural areas. Most of the assets Tompkins County is looking for is moving in the Lansing direction.”

On the question of affordable housing, Koplinka-Loehr talked about a recent incentive passed by the county legislature to give a three-year break toward infrastructure improvements, until the development is finished, while acknowledging the limitations of county government — the legislature has no power to zone, for example.

“What Tompkins County can do is incentivize, partner, lobby state and federal government. we’ve done all that of course and we can re-double our efforts,” Koplinka-Loehr said. “How can we assist to get over those stumbling blocks, so we have more affordable housing, closer in, don’t have as many in-commuters and maintaining our quality of life.”

We then moved the conversation to the more general question of how working people in Tompkins County can get by.

“I’ve worked for non-profits and was astounded when I walked into the door. People are getting $12 an hour, they’re professionals, they’ve got their degrees and it’s really stunning, and I’ve worked really hard at every agency I’ve worked at to get the wage well beyond living wage so people felt good about it and they stayed,” Koplinka-Loehr said “…. Things the legislature can do and has done, is pass a living wage for all county employees, and also those who contract with the county. We can expand that, and that seems to be the logical next step, but we have to consider the impact on the taxpayer.”

Mike Koplinka-Loehr, on steps, at campaign announcement on May 1, 2017. Photo:

The conversation also touched on the question of the potential jail expansion and the role of the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency [IDA] in developing new businesses and housing.

Give the full interview a listen at the link or at the embedded player below. Runs about 14 minutes and 25 seconds.

Next week on WRFI News (6 p.m. at 88.1 FM Ithaca and 91.9 FM Watkins Glen) Josh Brokaw of TruthSayers News will interview Reed Steberger, challenger to incumbent Rich John in Tompkins County District 4. Candidates who haven’t yet scheduled an interview should email

Featured graphic by Caleb Thomas, via Carolina Osorio Gil’s campaign website.

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Josh Brokaw is an independent reporter based in Ithaca, N.Y.

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