Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students and community members stand on line at the Alice Cook House polling location on Election Day 2022.

November 9, 2022

Local and Statewide Elections Bring Sweeping Victories for Democrats

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At the local and state level, this Election Day brought sweeping victories for the Democratic party, with the notable exception of the New York District 19 House race. On Nov. 8, students were able to vote at polling sites on or close to campus, with other Cornellians sending out absentee ballots. 

Outside of Alice Cook House, Cornell’s first on-campus polling site, students told The Sun why they turned out to vote.

“Climate justice is my biggest issue,” said Brandon Restler ’23. “I’m an EAS major and I think it’s an important issue for my generation with a big impact on people.”

Catie Michael ’25 felt a sense of urgency to be an active part of the community.

“How can you live somewhere without taking an active role?” Michael said. 

For some students, like Pranjal Jain ’23, being able to cast a ballot represented a commitment to her civic duty.

“I grew up undocumented, so voting for my rights is something that is really important to me,” Jain said.

The results of the 2022 midterm elections are largely in, though results are not officially final until a week after Election Day when mail-in ballots will be counted.

Voters cast in-person ballots on several referendums in Tompkins County. (Jason Wu/Sun Assistant Photography Editor)

City of Ithaca

Laura Lewis (D-N.Y.) to Serve as Ithaca’s Next Mayor

Democratic candidate Laura Lewis was elected as mayor of Ithaca, having stepped in after the resignation of previous incumbent Svante Myrick ’09. She is now slated to finish the remainder of his term for one year.

Lewis was victorious with 65.33 percent of the vote, with Progressive Katie Sims ’20 and Republican Zachary Winn gaining 25.32 percent and 8.61 percent of the vote, respectively.

Leading up to the election, Lewis’s and Sims’s campaign spending far exceeded Winn’s. According to The Ithaca Voice, Lewis’s campaign had raised $6,893 and spent $4,057; Sims’s had raised $6,845 and spent $2,698 and Winn’s had raised ​​$769 — $489 of which the Tompkins County Republican Party contributed. 

Lewis’s campaign addressed issues including housing, infrastructure, staffing needs, public safety and sustainability, telling The Sun that she supported development within the city center and in public transportation. Lewis was also known for her lax campaign style, including not using lawn signs to campaign due to the waste they produce.

Both of her opponents gracefully accepted defeat and wished Mayor Lewis well in her term.

“This is my home. I wish Acting Mayor Lewis every possible positive outcome now that she has fully assumed the role of mayor,” Winn said. “I hope that whoever fills her vacated council seat represents the interests of all Ithacans and not one particular subset or group, as the role of a council person is now greatly amplified in significance due to the passage of the city manager ballot referendum.” 

Sims feels that the large turnout, especially for an Independent candidate, indicates that progressive goals should continue to be prioritized in Ithaca.

“I really hope that she will continue to take the issues of housing, public safety and the Green New Deal very seriously and implement them with courage,” Sims told The Sun. “Not policies that equivocate or are complacent, but policies that really get to the heart of the issues and take a bold stance on protecting people’s livelihoods.”

Both Sims and Winn intend to stay involved in local politics.

“I would feel like I was betraying people who put their trust in me if I was to simply walk away from the concerns I have expressed about the West End,” Winn said.

“A lot of the people who voted for me showed a lot of care and excitement for the vision that we were presenting,” Sims said. “You really have to go out of your way to vote on an Independent line. So the fact that so many people did is really telling.”

City Manager Referendum Passes

The city manager referendum passed with 77.77 percent of Tompkins County residents voting ‘yes’ on the proposition.

The referendum will create a new position in Ithaca appointed by Common Council. The city manager will work closely with the Council, providing management experience and building the budget. The proposition also gives the mayor, Laura Lewis, a vote on Common Council.

Featuring Christmas decorations, the Ithaca Town Hall received voters for the 2022 Midterm Elections on Nov 8th, 2022. (Nina Davis/Sun Contributor)

New York State

Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) to Become New York’s 19th District Representative

In New York’s 19th district — a newly formed swing district encompassing Ithaca, which candidate Josh Riley (D-N.Y.) called the seventh most competitive in the nation at a Friday town hall in Goldwin Smith Hall — Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) defeated Riley by 2.18 percentage points district wide. At the county level, Riley received 73.28 percent of the vote.

Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, portrayed himself as a moderate Republican, telling Middletown’s Times Herald-Record that he supports “common-sense legislation to keep our communities safe from gun violence” and banning stock trading for members of Congress and their families.

In Riley’s concession statement, he expressed his good wishes for Molinaro’s term and his appreciation for Molinaro’s commitment to opposing a national abortion ban, improving funding for mental health and creating jobs in Upstate New York.

“With the ballots cast, votes counted and campaign ended, it’s important to set aside our divisions and do our best to unite,” Riley wrote.

Lea Webb (D-N.Y.) Wins New York State Senate Race

Democrat Lea Webb wins the NY-52 State Senate seat, defeating Republican and former Binghamton mayor Rich David. Webb received 49.82 percent of the vote district-wide and 71.54 percent of Tompkins County votes.

Webb formerly served on the Binghamton City Council and currently works as a diversity education coordinator at Binghamton University. She was previously a community organizer with the grassroots nonprofit Citizen Action.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) Retains Governor Seat Against Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)

Following a bruising campaign that wound up significantly closer than many predicted, especially given New York’s strong Democratic tilt, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) has won the race for governor of New York. At the time of publication, Hochul won 52.11 percent of the vote statewide and 71.98 percent of the vote in Tompkins County.

Hochul has been elected to her first full term as governor, having stepped in after the resignation of the previous incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) due to a sexual harassment scandal. 

She is the first elected female governor of New York, as well as the first governor from Upstate New York since Nathan L. Cortland (R.-N.Y.), was elected governor in 1921. Hochul is a moderate liberal who focused on corruption in Albany, voting rights and ending the shortage of teachers and healthcare workers in her 2022 State of the State address

The race was originally seen as a race that would be safely Democratic, but Lee Zeldin’s focus on crime catapulted his own candidacy and the race into the national spotlight. 

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) Wins Senate Re-Election

Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer secured a quick victory against Republican Joe Rinion, receiving 55.01 percent of the vote statewide and 73.29 percent of the Tompkins County vote. Schumer has held his seat in the New York Senate since 1999. 

A reliable candidate for New Yorkers, Schumer has consistently prioritized improving New York’s economy. According to the United States Senate website, he has been successful in creating thousands of family-supporting new jobs and passing immigration laws such as the Immigration Modernization Act. 

Letitia James (D-N.Y.) Wins Re-Election As New York Attorney General

Democratic incumbent Letitia James wins a second term as New York Attorney General, defeating Republican candidate Michael Henry with 52.61 percent of the vote statewide and 72.63 percent countywide. 

James assumed office in 2019 and has taken on opponents including former President Donald Trump, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the National Rifle Association during her three-year tenure. 

James significantly outraised her opponent and was the favorite to win. James also had the upper hand as a Democrat in New York, where no Republican has been elected attorney general since 1994.

New York’s Environmental Bond Act Passes Statewide

Around 60 percent of New Yorkers and 77 percent of Tompkins County residents voted ‘yes’ on proposal one, solidly approving the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022.

The Environmental Bond Act will invest $4.2 billion of state bonds in environmental resiliency, natural restoration, sustainability and clean energy projects across New York state. Thirty-five to 45 percent of funds will be allocated to green initiatives in disadvantaged communities.

Funds will be distributed across four major categories: climate change mitigation ($1.5 billion), flood risk reduction ($1.1 billion), water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure ($650 million) and land conservation and restoration ($650 million).

Proposed climate change mitigation efforts include implementing renewable energy systems throughout buildings and converting state school buses to electric power. Flood risk reduction funds will provide flood prevention infrastructure to New York’s most threatened areas. Water quality improvement plans will restore and protect drinking water reserves across the state, and land conservation projects will monitor sustainable management of natural resources.

New York’s first environmental bond act since 1996, the Environmental Bond Act of 2022 is the largest investment of bonds in state history supporting environmental protection efforts.

Jonathan Mong ’25 contributed reporting.