Democratic challenger Gwen Wilkinson won the race yesterday for district attorney, defeating 16-year incumbent George Dentes ’76 (R) by a margin of 1,848 votes, according to unofficial results posted by the Tompkins County Board of Elections last night.
“It feels great,” Wilkinson said. “I feel incredibly gratified at the voter turnout.”
She said her first tasks in office will be to “get the D.A. back as an active member of the drug treatment program” and establishing ties to the county legislature.
Nate Shinagawa ’05 (D), who ran unopposed on the ballot for the Fourth District’s legislature seat, received 134 votes for that position, and David Gelinas ’07 (D) received 146 votes in his uncontested bid as the City of Ithaca’s fourth ward representative to the Common Council, the city’s legislative body. Mary Tomlan MA ’71 (D) was re-elected as Ithaca’s third ward representative to the Council with 420 votes.
Shinagawa’s race for the legislature seat was contested by a write-in campaign by Nitin Chadda ’07, but officials at the Tompkins County Board of Elections said write-in votes would not be available until the county’s votes are re-canvassed and verified, which one worker said would be in about a week.
The City of Ithaca voted overwhelmingly in Wilkinson’s favor, with 2,709 of the votes going to her and 964 to Dentes.
About 33 percent of registered voters in Tompkins County turned out for elections, and in the third and fourth wards – which correspond to Tompkins’ third and fourth district – the turnout was about 27 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
“This is a great victory for Democrats across the country and here in Ithaca,” said Cornell Democrats President Mitch Fagen ’07, referring to gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey and the mayoral race in Syracuse. “Students turned out and they voted, and they voted for the Democrat, Gwen Wilkinson.”
“The country is waking up,” he added.
According to Fagen, polling officials at North Campus estimated that about one-third of the voters there were students. He said that this turnout, which he described as “amazing,” was partially due to strong advertising by the Cornell Democrats.
“It really was about Cornell students talking to Cornell students and telling them this election is important and they need to vote,” said Seth Luxenberg ’08, director of fundraising at the Cornell Democrats.
In Tompkins County’s 12th district, the legislature’s current chair, Democrat Tim Joseph, was re-elected in a three-way bid for that district’s legislature representative.
Noting the overwhelming success for Wilkinson in the third and fourth wards specifically, Shinagawa said was pleased with the election as a whole.
“Today was great. We were out there all day long,” he said. “The Dems did a fantastic job.”
Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor