Nate Shinagawa ’05 won the Democratic primary for the county’s 4th District legislator position last night, ensuring that the spot will go for the first time to a student or recent alumnus. The race is now between Shinagawa; Nitin Chadda ’07, who will run on the Independence ticket; and possibly Matt Bishop grad, who may run for the seat on an independent ticket.
Shinagawa received 47 of the 105 votes, with 26 going to Bishop and 32 to Joan Spielholz ’73. Elsewhere in the county, another Cornellian, Hank Dullea ’83 lost the Democratic nomination for 1st District legislator to Pamela Mackesey, who is currently Ithaca’s Common Council representative for the First Ward.
Shinagawa said that a crucial element in his victory was the strong support he got from various volunteers.
“It’s not even that I’m happy that I won, I’m so heart warmed by the effort people put in,” Shinagawa said. “I just have a new faith in politics. I’ve never seen people work so hard for politics, and not only were they working hard, but they were working for me.”
Common Council member Michael Taylor ’05, who had endorsed Shinagawa for the election, said he was “very excited” about Shinagawa’s victory.
“The Fourth Ward is very lucky that he won tonight,” Taylor said. Still, Bishop and Spielholz expressed disappointment at the election’s low turnout rate of 13 percent of registered voters, the lowest rate among the three Ithaca districts which held primaries yesterday. And with most of her 32 votes most likely coming from the relatively few non-student residents in the district, Spielholz added that student turnout was probably much lower than that of non-students. “I was very surprised at the level of voter turnout on everyone’s behalf. I registered over 100 people to vote this summer, and I expected more people to vote on everyone’s behalf,” Bishop said.
“Considering how many people are registered, the truth is that people at the polls were pretty lonely,” Spielholz said.
Bishop is also the Alliance for Progress party’s nomination for the legislature position, meaning that he is still eligible to run in the general election. He said last night that he would wait for the affidavit votes to be counted before deciding whether to pursue that option. Affidavit votes are used for those people registered elsewhere in Tompkins but now residing in the 4th District.
Spielholz said that she will support Shinagawa in the coming general elections, but she added that he should stay for the full four years of the term if he eventually wins the seat, something Shinagawa has vowed to do.
“I promise I will fulfill my entire term,” he said. “I don’t have any reason to leave this area, I could stay forever.”
Speilholz also added that many non-student residents have approached her with concerns that bar closing hours, which Shinagawa and Bishop had both promised to try to extend, are a misplaced priority.
Longer bar hours would not bring more safety to Collegetown, she said, but would instead only postpone the hour at which drunk students pour out to the streets. She added that any such change would have to be county-wide, and legislators from other districts would likely oppose it.
“It’s not anything that would possibly pass in the legislature, so it may be a moot point,” she said.
The general election for the legislator position will be held on Nov. 8. The last day to register for that election is Oct. 14.
Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor