Tompkins County Politics Round-Up, Electioneering Edition

Categories Ithaca, Politics

By Josh Brokaw

With one full-time staff person who’s working for volunteer pay – unless you lovely people send us cash – TruthSayers can’t be at every event or political happening. Which is why you need to become a reporter for us, if you’re feeling the itch to tell some truth. Check out our weekly agenda posts for meetings in Tompkins County you might want to cover, and feel free to pitch us with stories through the “contact us” box about local happenings in Tompkins County and anywhere else you might be.

We are fortunate here in the Ithaca area to have at least a few outlets with a few underpaid reporters still on the beat, which means that sometimes a story is covered by multiple people, or one aspect of a story will be covered by one outlet and another outlet will follow up. How do we deal with getting “scooped” on a story? Well, let’s link to it! Hyperlinks are one of the wonderful features of the internet that’s often underused by local media because a publisher doesn’t want to acknowledge that – gasp! – other versions of the same story exist.  So here’s a link-dump post on some recent political news in Tompkins County.

Keith Hannon Back on the Ballot

Your correspondent didn’t get a chance to attend the August 24 court hearing regarding the disqualification of Independent Party candidate Keith Hannon from the ballot.

You can read TruthSayers‘ coverage of Hannon getting kicked off the ballot on July 31 here, where we were first to tell you about the disqualification, and then our story from August 16  about his campaign filing a lawsuit in Supreme Court of Tompkins County. And as a bonus, here’s our WRFI interview with Hannon recorded in July.

Matt Butler, your correspondent’s successor in the reporter role at the Ithaca Times, did attend that August 24 hearing and was first to report that Judge Joseph Cassidy reinstated Hannon to the Independence Party line in the District 5 Tompkins County Legislature election. Butler and yourself discussed that news and other county political news live on WRFI News on August 29.

Listen to that conversation here at the link or in the player below.

Two Challengers in One Common Council Race

Butler and Times editor Nick Reynolds had interviews in last week’s print edition with two independent challengers for the Common Council seat of Alderperson Cynthia Brock (D-1st Ward), who is running for re-election.

Butler interviewed Jim Lukasavage, who is running for the second straight time on an “Ithaca New Cynics” line – in 2015, Lukasavage ran against Alderperson George McGonigal.

The correction appended to the online edition of Butler’s interview perhaps sums up Lukasavage’s idealistic campaign better than any other:

“(Correction: The print version of this article identified Lukasavage as a “pacifist anarchist,” but he prefers the term “post-modern humanist.”)”

Reynolds talked to Anthony Hayton, who’s running on the “Operation West Hill” line against Brock. Hayton was one of the West Village residents that TruthSayers spoke to for a story about the Officer Next Door program in August.

Hayton had this to say in his Times interview about the flow of drugs coming through West Village right now:

“It’s not even hidden; it’s all in plain view,” Hayton said. “People walking, people in cars, even some college kids come up here to buy.”

But something else needs to happen.

“Our kids are growing up here, they’re seeing it and having to come inside whenever anything happens,” Hayton added. “They’re coming through, four or five police cars, pretty much looking for whatever was reported to them to take care of. To the kids, that means they can’t play anymore, they would say ‘the cops are here to shoot someone.’ That’s not what they’re here to do; I know what it is, but they don’t.”

Three-Way Race for County Legislature Enters Stretch Run

It’s a relatively competitive local election year, with many candidates running for the Tompkins County Legislature, but there’s only one race offering a choice in the primary.

Correction … incumbent Rich John and challenger Reed Steberger are on the Democratic primary ballot in District 4, representing downtown and Collegetown. The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a candidate forum on Thursday, September 7 at the Ithaca Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.

Three Democratic candidates are vying for one spot in the Tuesday, September 12 primary in District 3, representing city citizens in and around Belle Sherman and South Hill.

The three candidates – Henry Granison, Carolina Osorio Gil, and David Shapiro – attended a candidates’ forum put on by the local League of Women’s Voters on August 31. Kelsey O’Connor has a write-up of the event on the Ithaca Voice, along with the video of the event; Butler has a summary of the event in the Times.

Fifth Ward Race Taking Shape for Common Council

Alderperson Josephine Martell officially resigned from Common Council on August 24, after her family bought a house on West Hill.

Announced candidates so far are WRFI host/freelance journalist Aryeal Jackson and Laura Lewis, a former worker in student services at Cornell’s Industrial Labor Relations school. Lewis also happens to be the 5th Ward Democratic Committee chairperson. Your correspondent knows of at least one more candidate collecting signatures. Tompkins County legislator Anna Kelles wrote an op-ed placed in several local publications that gives the details of how to get one’s self on the ballot for this seat – the need-to-know information is that ensuring one is on the ballot requires collecting 60 signatures for an independent line, because the Democratic committee won’t meet to endorse until after the September 12 primary. (One could perhaps, in theory, be selected to run as a Republican, but we’ll let some enthusiastic young reporter find the 5th Ward Republican committee of Fall Creekers.)

It seems that only “known candidates” for the Fifth Ward seat are applying to fill the seat for the remainder of the year – new Council-members join on January 1 – and Mayor Svante Myrick is thinking that keeping the seat open might be preferable to giving one candidate an advantage, according to a report from new Journal hire Sarah Mearhoff.

If you have local political news you’d like to share about Tompkins County or your area – or if you want to become a political blogger for TruthSayers – email

Disclosure: Multiple people mentioned in this story have donated to TruthSayers’ reporting, which you can do here. Your correspondent doesn’t think that’s affected his reporting. If you think differently complain to me at

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

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Twitter: @jdbrokaw