Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95 came a step closer to challenging current Rep. Tom Reed (R–N.Y.) for his seat in Congress after winning the Democratic Primary last week.
A Cornell alumna, former professor and past IT Director for the University, Mitrano won the primary for New York’s 23rd district after candidate Max Della Pia conceded. Before absentee ballots were counted, Della Pia was leading by 26 ballots on election night, the Ithaca Voice reported.
Early in her campaign, Mitrano, who served on The Cornell Daily Sun’s senior board of directors until 2013 and plays no role at the paper now, spoke about her objectives and early goals in running for election.
Mitrano has staunchly opposed Reed’s policies on legislation which ranges from infrastructure to healthcare and agricultural tariffs.
In October, Mitrano spoke at length on the issue of broadband internet connectivity in the district, a policy that, despite it being a “tremendous handicap” to residents, she argued Reed had ignored because of his resistance to government regulations.
Since then, internet connectivity has remained in Mitrano’s platform but she has broadened it into a “comprehensive picture of people first and economic development in the district,” she told The Sun on Tuesday.
Regarding her platform with a nod to young voters, Mitrano narrows it to three issues: interest-free student loans, internet neutrality and women’s reproductive health.
“I do emphatically believe we need zero percent interest on student loans,” she said. “[Interest rates are] counterproductive to a policy that’s encouraging people to get education and put themselves in a position of social mobility.”
However, Mitrano was clear in her opposition to publically funded public higher education, which was a facet of Senator Bernie Sanders (D – Vt.)’s presidential campaign, believing that it could, based on the European model, have “the unintended consequence of tracking people at very young ages,” she said.
Mitrano turns specifically to Cornell as an example for her opposition to the Republican tax bill, which Reed supported. Because of the bill’s inclusion of a tax on university endowments, Mitrano considers it to be “an attack on autonomy of higher education, ostensibly because people like Reed believe that colleges and universities are vacuums of liberals,” she said.
Beyond platform highlights for college-age votes, Mitrano aims to expand infrastructure development and to expand healthcare to people across the district. In specific recent policies, she is critical of the new work requirement in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, program and agricultural tariffs placed on the wine and soybean industry.
For Mitrano, these issues bridge the political divide in a policy that puts “people first and economic development for all,” she said.
As such, Mitrano plans to pivot the path Reed has set in policy for a district that “wants common sense, middle of the road, economically productive, basic civil rights policies.” she said.
“I hear a lot of disillusionment among unaffiliated voters as well as Republicans. Rep. Tom Reed and his record in Congress and what that means for the people in this district,” Mitrano said. “He has turned his back on them and people now know it.”
Mitrano came to Cornell in 1991 as a visiting professor in the human development department in the College of Human Ecology, with a background in American history. After a year of teaching, Mitrano attended Cornell Law School, where she obtained her J.D. in 1995.
She then taught as a professor again in the human ecology college from 1996 to 2001. In 2001, Mitrano accepted the position of director of information technology policy, which she held until 2014.
Clarification: An earlier version of this article misstated Mitrano’s role at The Cornell Daily Sun. She served on the senior board, not the alumni board, and has had no involvement since her departure in 2013.