One of the common themes I heard from constituents while petitioning to get on the ballot was that they never know about what is happening in the county until after the window for their participation has passed. This is reflected in the comments I read online, as well as my personal experiences when dealing with the legislature. When elected, I will modernize the public facing output of the legislature to include a legitimized social media presence, as well as an official bi-weekly column in the Owego Pennysaver, and hopefully additional newspapers, that will keep voters apprised of the political calendar so they are able to participate. My goal in modernizing local government communication is to ultimately increase community participation, civic engagement, and ensure the future of the county is shaped by those who will inherit it. My expertise, years of experience, educational background as a communications specialist, and timely perspective will aid in this effort.
If there has been any silver lining to this pandemic, it is that our society has shown we can be far more accommodating to far more citizens, than what was previously realized. Hybrid committee and legislature meetings have opened the door for many disabled or homebound community members to civically engage with their communities. As a legislator, I will lobby to enshrine these hybrid meetings into our bylaws to make sure they stay that way. I will also push for these meetings to be recorded so voters can view them at their discretion. In addition, I will advocate for a more accessible meeting pattern — so that working voters can more readily participate in our governing process. Because really — what working citizen can attend a legislative session that meets at 10am on Tuesday? Government transparency shouldn’t be exclusive to retirees, the able-bodied, or those like myself who are fortunate enough to have guaranteed paid time off.
Typically I steer clear of identity politics, and prefer to focus on big picture ideas and finding common ground, but I’d be lying to you if I said they weren’t a factor in this instance, in this election. It is not nothing to note that at 30 years old, I would be the youngest representative of my district in the history of the county. I would also be the first woman to represent district 1. In 2021, we still have a legislative body where only 2 of 9 seats are filled by women, and no seats are filled by a person under 50. How can we expect our governing body to value the perspectives of those who will inherit the future of this county if there is nobody to be their voice? It is time for our government to include younger voices, and I have learned through experience that it’s difficult to have a voice without a seat at the table. With that in mind, I want to create internships for local schools with existing political committees as well as the legislature for eligible students. It is my hope to provide our youth with the valuable experience of community service, civic engagement, and the rewarding knowledge of realizing their own power through participating in our democracy.
I recognize that Tioga County and its broad coalition of voices are part of a larger, national conversation, and firmly believe local government should reflect that reality. You cannot build equity without empathy for the circumstances and lived experiences of others, and empathy is grown through shared experience and listening. Right now, there seems to be no diversity of shared cultural experience, and very little listening outside of the echo chamber of our local government. I want to change that. I am a founding member of the local antiracist and pro-equality group Owego for Equality. I am proud of my work as a community organizer and activist. I am not afraid to challenge our existing leadership to do better. For example, I want to know why existing leadership has not pursued ARPA Local Relief funds after the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community. I will continue to be an advocate and amplify the voices of those in our community who lack representation, and I will pursue those ARPA funds our sitting legislators have not.