Last night was one to celebrate for Tompkins County Democrats, with their candidates sweeping key races as First Lady Hillary Clinton defeated Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.) for the state’s open Senate seat and incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) defeated Republican Bob Moppert. Ithaca’s Democratic City Court Judge John Rowley (D) defeated District Attorney George Dentes ’76 in the County Judge race.
Ithaca voters also voted down the plan to fluoridate local drinking water.
The mood at the Democratic gathering at Plumbers and Pipefitters Union building on West State St. reflected the parties local sweep. The celebration began at 9 p.m. when national and local news sources announced that Clinton had defeated Lazio for the open senate seat taking 56 percent of the vote.
The event kicked into high gear shortly thereafter when Irene Stein, President of Tompkins County Democrats, announced Rowley’s victory over Dentes by a margin of 20,190 votes to 13,512 votes.
“I think Judge Rowley ran on his record and ran an excellent campaign,” Stein said.
She thanked the hundreds of people from every walk of life and every part of the county who helped the campaign to victory.
Rowley arrived shortly after his victory was announced to loud cheers and a shower of candy, coming on stage with his family to make a short speech.
He explained that he was appealing to voters’ intelligence. “We knew voters in Tompkins County were smart enough to sort out the issues, and here is the result,” Rowley said. “[Winning this race] just came to putting myself out there.”
Mark Finkelstein, a spokesperson for the Tompkins County Republican Party, expressed his regret that Dentes lost the election, “I think it’s a loss that he won’t be serving as judge, but the county is lucky to have him as a district attorney for at least another year.”
State Assemblyman Marty Luster (D-125th), also retained his seat by running without opposition from the Republican Party.
Luster said that in his next term he plans to continue working to push an agenda which will stress reform.
He looks to attempt to change leadership, simplify state educational aid and work to lessen the severity of controversial drug laws.
He also made a point of commending Rowley. “I think that John Rowley made this race a real learning experience up here, and I’m very grateful for that,” Luster said.
Luster explained that the election for county judge does not usually receive much attention, and he gave Rowley credit for bringing the race to the public forefront.
In another local election, a referendum to fluoridate water in Ithaca failed by a vote of 2,716 votes to 2,470 votes. Dr. John Comisi, a local dentist and proponent of the measure, attributed the failure of the fluoridation plan to peoples’ fear of poisoning and fear of something they did not understand.
“I don’t believe there was reason for the fear, but the ‘antis’ went out and created it,” he said.
Brian Eden of Citizens Environmental Coalition justified the position of those against the measure, saying, “even if it were effective on teeth, that’s not to say it wouldn’t have an effect on other parts of the body.”
He attributed his group’s success to a grassroots campaign, where he and others against fluoridation went door to door and spoke to people.
Cornell students at the function also noted the time and effort put into the local races.
Cornell Democrat David Mortlock ’01 spent most of his time working for the Clinton senate campaign, but also worked for Rowley’s campaign.
Mortlock commented on the victory, “This was really nice because there were no predictions. We have a lot to celebrate tonight, not only the outcome, but the hard work.”
Archived article by Michael Kahn