Election News from Around the County

From Renate Ferro, Chair, Caroline

Caroline incumbent Democrats Mark Witmer, Kate Kelley-Mackenzie, Tim Murray and Michelle Brown won a highly contested Town Board election with a decisive 54 percent majority on Election Night. They did so with the help of a fleet of Caroline Democrats who conducted a door-to-door campaign, campaign sign organization, direct mail campaign, website outreach and social media presence.

The campaign litmus test was the issue of zoning. The debate came to a head during the June Democratic Primary, when approximately 80 non-Democrats switched party affiliation to Democratic as self-described DINOs (Democrats in Name Only). Their mission was to circumvent the democratic process and push an anti-zoning agenda couched in messages of neighborly unity. Our candidates knew first-hand that zoning was one of many complex issues that needed to be managed. We felt that our incumbents’ track record, experience and leadership would help them prevail on November 7.

Our hunch was correct, but it took time, effort and strategic organization of our volunteers. The campaign’s moving parts were organized by the committee’s newly-elected chair, Renate Ferro, and former TCDC chair Jean McPheeters, aided by the managerial excellence of former Town Board member Irene Weiser. There was so much at stake—not just zoning, but continuity on many important issues such as broadband internet service, emergency services and programs that support families, youth and the elderly

Mark, Kate, Tim and Michelle look forward to getting back to work this week to finalize the zoning draft. They’ll bring it before the public one last time before voting on it and turning to the other important issues.

In new business, we and TCDC are seeking Democratic Caroline residents to actively represent District I (Speedsville), District II (greater Slaterville) and District III (Brooktondale) on the Caroline Democratic Committee. We have proved that grassroots politics is successful, and we look forward to building on that success to influence presidential, state and regional races. It is a privilege to represent Caroline citizens, and we look forward to coming together soon to celebrate our accomplishments with an evening of holiday merriment.

For information on the Caroline Democratic Committee contact Renate Ferro at renateferro@gmail.com.The meeting schedule for 2024 will be announced in late December.

From Marnie Kirchgessner, Chair, Danby

Due to the diligent work of my predecessors, especially Naomi Strichartz and Dan Klein, Democrats today enjoy a dominating presence in Danby, with approximately 1,500 Democrats to 1,000 all other registrations. Nevertheless, 2023 represented our first contested general elections in ten years. The election committee was concerned that the opposition would create divisive issues and disseminate disinformation.

Ironically, a somewhat fractured town committee formed an election team that coalesced behind the duly nominated candidates, and victory was achieved. Folks put the past behind them and went above and beyond in their efforts, especially Jim Hollahan and Erin Carruth. I felt like every time they agreed to one thing several other asks piled on. They were what every leader dreams of: loyal helpers.

The margin of victory was smaller than ten years ago, thus the lesson is even in a strongly Democratic environment propaganda can influence voters. We’re considering establishing some systems that could routinely be used—for example, locations for signage—for future elections. Although a wonderful “Thank God it’s over party” was held at Katharine Hunter’s, the post mortem on the process has yet to occur. One of candidates left town for a well-deserved vacation.

From Joe Wilson, Chair, Dryden

Congratulations to our Dryden candidates, each of whom won their seat by a very substantial margin. We also want to congratulate and thank the large number of committee members and friends who supported our candidates by going neighbor to neighbor, planting candidate signs, writing letters to the editor, posting on social media and donating to enable us to publicize the good work our candidates do for Dryden.

Not too long ago, elections in the Town of Dryden were contentious and close. Starting under the leadership of our late chair, Jim Gustafson, Mike Pitzrick and Ethan Ash, and with guidance from long-serving elected officials Martha Robertson and Mike Lane, the Dryden Democrats have built a comprehensive campaign team. This fall’s early start featured more than 20 canvassers, a four-person sign team, stunning campaign literature, letters to absentee voters, generous donations (including TCDC’s contribution) and a slate of candidates known for making life better in Dryden in a fiscally responsible way.

The result: Each of our Candidates won by a better-than 70 percent margin!

From Ann Sullivan, Chair, City of Ithaca,Third Ward

The new Third Ward Committee is enjoying a break after successfully electing two new Ithaca City Council members: Dave Shapiro and Pierre Saint-Perez. Both candidates worked extremely hard canvassing the South Hill, Belle Sherman and Bryant Park neighborhoods. We look forward to watching them carry on the good work of Donna Fleming, Rob Gearhart, Cynthia Brock and George McGonigal, whom we thank for their years of service. We also thank the dedicated poll workers who make our elections function smoothly. We delivered pizza to both the South Hill and Belle Sherman polling places as a token of our gratitude.

From Heather McCarty, Chair, Newfield

Newfield Democratic Candidates for Town Board won contested elections easily, with 490 votes for Casey Powers and 485 votes for Heather McCarty, as compared to Republicans Christopher Hyer (256) and Chad Rylott (240). We got a great response to the largest mailing we’ve done in recent years: a full-color jumbo-sized postcard sent to all registered Democrats plus unaffiliated voters in the Town of Newfield. We also resurrected our website, which had been down for a couple of years, and put up about 100 signs, as well as knocking on some doors. Many thanks to all the voters, the Newfield Democratic Committee, and the support of the TCDC, especially Linda Hoffmann and Ted Crane.

In other news, our committee elected a new chair: Heather McArty; to succeed longtime chair Richard Driscoll. Richard will serve as vice chair.

From Cynthia Mannino, Chair, Ulysses

Congratulations to our candidates Liz Weatherby and Michael Boggs, who were elected to four-year terms each to serve on the Town Council! Congratulations to J. R. Cassidy, who also lives in our community and was re-elected to a ten-year term as Tompkins County Judge. Thank you for serving our community!

The Ulysses Dems planned and held a successful Meet the Candidates event in October where the public could attend and ask questions, followed by mingle time with refreshments. Attendees really appreciated the one on one time with candidates.

Village of Trumansburg Caucus News: The Ulysses Democratic Committee will hold a caucus in January to nominate candidates for two Trustees (for four-year terms) in the Village of Trumansburg. The election will be held in March of 2024.

The Ulysses Democratic Committee meets the first Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. All Democrats in the town are invited to join us. Those interested should contact chair Cynthia Mannino, cynthiam.udc@gmail.com.

Posted in Tompkins County.