November 6, 2002

Dems Keep 125th Assembly Seat. Lifton Beats Sigler.

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Barbara Lifton (D) beat Mike Sigler (R) in a 60-40 landslide for the State Assembly race in Tompkins and Cortland counties yesterday.

“It’s been a hard fought battle, but we did it and we did it on the issues,” Lifton said in her victory speech before 75 supporters at the Democratic Party headquarters –the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union in downtown Ithaca– around 10:30 p.m. last night.

In her speech, Lifton thanked her supporters, her volunteers, her husband and her boss, outgoing Assemblyman Martin A. Luster (D-125th) for his “support and guidance throughout this campaign and 14 years.”

Lifton, who was chief of staff for Luster, beat Democratic opponent Dan Lamb and Mike Lane in the September primary.

“It’s a tough job she’s taking,” Lamb said. “It’s a very dysfunctional body of government.”

Unofficial totals from the Board of Elections show Lifton with 18,540 votes to Sigler’s 12,806.

“I think it’s a tremendous victory for working families,” said Rob Hickey, Lifton supporter.

In a campaign where Sigler focused on job creation, LIfton emphasized jobs, health care and schools.

“[Sigler] had a canned message,” said Irene Stein, chairperson of the Tompkins County Democratic committee. “It isn’t just a matter of jobs.”

Peter Meskill won re-election as Tompkins County Sheriff, beating Green Party candidate and activist, Pete Myers. Vote totals were unavailable.

Lifton won a seat that had been in Republican hands for 75 years before 1988, when Luster was first elected. Republicans this year had hoped to regain that seat.

“Mike has been going out there person-to-person speaking about the issues,” said Kristen Zatina, a sophomore with the Ithaca College Republicans and Sigler supporter.

Sigler could not be reached for comment.

Luster, 60, the chair of the Assembly committee on mental health, ran unopposed in 2000 and did not run for re-election this year. He currently teaches a course on New York State politics at Cornell, and said he will continue to teach but has not finalized other plans.

“There’s no way I’m going to walk away from politics after 42 years,” Luster said.

In student election districts, Lifton led Sigler 242 to 73 votes and turnout was up from 15 percent in 2000 to 25 percent yesterday, according to Cornell Democrats President Jamison Moore ’04.

“Students turned out a lot,” Moore said, adding that there were still a “huge number of affidavit ballots” yet to be counted.

Archived article by Peter Norlander