The first of two 2022 primary elections is just around the corner, scheduled for June 28. Primaries for state and Assembly offices will take place in less than a week, while primaries for congressional and state Senate openings were pushed back to Aug. 23 due to New York State redistricting issues.
When Can I Vote?
The 2022 Tompkins County Primary Election will be held on June 28, 2022 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Early voting will take place from June 18 through June 26, and hours vary by day. The Tompkins County Board of Elections posted a comprehensive list of early voting times.
Who’s Eligible to Vote?
All registered Democratic or Republican voters in Tompkins County are eligible to vote in these elections. In the state of New York, only registered party members can participate in their political party’s primary election.
Who Can I Vote For?
The races on the June ballot will include the race for New York State Governor (Democratic and Republican) and the race for NY State Lieutenant Governor (Democratic). 4th Ward Ithaca residents will also be able to vote for a City of Ithaca 4th Ward Alderperson (Democratic) opening. The 4th Ward currently consists of Collegetown, East Hill, and a portion of Cornell’s campus.
What if I Don’t Have Enough Time Off From Work to Vote?
According to New York State Election Law, residents without four consecutive hours to vote either before or after their shift are eligible for state voting leave. Employees that qualify can take up to 2 hours of paid time off at the beginning or end of their shift to vote, as long as they notify their employer no less than 2 working days before or no more than 10 days ahead of when they plan to vote.
How Can I Vote?
Voters can still apply for an in-person absentee ballot until Jun. 27 by visiting the Tompkins County Board of Elections office or at their polling place on June 28.
Where Can I Vote?
To find your polling place go to voterlookup.elections.ny.gov and fill out your voter information. Many residents also received a postcard from the Board of Elections last month with their appropriate polling place listed.
What’s At Stake?
The winning candidates from each party will move on to the Tuesday, November 8, 2022 elections.
Two Cornell students compete for Common Council Forth Ward
Cornell University rising senior and current fourth ward alderperson Patrick Mehler will be running against fellow Cornellian Tiffany Kumar in the June 28 primary election for a one-year Forth Ward term. The candidate that wins will receive the Democratic nomination.
Mehler joined the Ithaca Common Council last fall as an appointed temporary replacement for former alderperson Steve Smith after he resigned to move out of town.
Last week, the two candidates participated in a forum moderated by First Vice Chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee Stacey Dumas. The candidates had three minutes to introduce themselves, and were then asked a series of ten questions ranging from their favorite local comfort food to more serious topics such as the reimagining public safety plan or affordable housing in Ithaca.
In her speech, Kumar introduced herself as the proud daughter of an immigrant that stands with her peers in picket lines, marches for abortion rights and rallies for housing justice and gay rights.
“When my mother came to this country with $400 sewn into the lining of her jacket, no one could have imagined that her daughter would be here today, fighting for change,” said Kumar.
Kumar also asserted that she’s run more campaigns, written more legislation and registered more voters than Mehler, in addition to reminding voters that though Mehler is technically the incumbent, he wasn’t elected by the public to the position.
In his speech, Mehler also introduced his family, explaining that both of his parents are “lifelong union members.” He also mentioned that he’s lived in the district for around three years, and built strong relationships with others in the community through his time as Alderperson and because of his commitment to conflict resolution.
“I was very fortunate to have the trust of council, to say ‘we want a college student, we want somebody for the first time in a decade to come here and to be a part of this,’” said Mehler.
Throughout the forum, Mehler continued to forefront relationships, trust and working with other Ithacans as his core beliefs.
“I’m 21, and you’re … 20. There are people in this room who have more expertise than us, than we have been alive for. And trusting city staff is not a convoluted way of getting around a problem. It’s to admit that we are not experts in these fields,” he said.
In his fairly brief stint on the Common Council, Mehler has been able to get legislation through that extends the amount of time renters have before landlords can ask them to renew their leases. Mehler is currently a rising senior, and said he intends to stay in Ithaca after graduation.
“I’ve really enjoyed the work I’ve gotten to do and I think I can get some more done,” he said.
One of his priorities going forward is meeting transportation needs of all kinds in Collegetown.
“Helping make Collegetown a safer, more walkable place is huge on my list,” Mehler said. “And that starts with the extra money for College Ave in last year’s budget.”
He said he has been working with the city’s engineering staff to figure out how to make the area safer for people to walk, bike and drive.
“Currently my focus is local infrastructure and moving those projects along,” Mehler said.
Additionally, Mehler said he’s also looking to give Collegetown an identity and finding ways to acknowledge the local businesses in the fourth ward.
Mehler said he believes one of his strongest attributes is his ability to connect with both the students and permanent residents in the fourth ward. He said connecting with people is his strength, and that he’s willing to show up anywhere to meet with constituents and build those connections.
For her part, Kumar said as a queer Asian American woman, she has seen throughout her life that government institutions at every level do not benefit marginalized communities. If elected, Kumar plans to make housing justice her first priority.
“I recognize housing justice is racial justice,” she said. “I have witnessed the violence of houselessness firsthand.”
Kumar’s fight for housing justice would include the Right to Renew legislation that stalled out in the Planning and Economic Development Committee, right to repairs, more affordable housing and inclusionary zoning laws.
“I’ve realized how much our city council doesn’t reflect our views,” she said.
This story was originally published by the Ithaca Times as a part of The Cornell Daily Sun Ithaca News Fellowship. Information from this story was compiled in part by The Ithaca Times Staff.