The following is a republished press release from the Trailblazers PAC and NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements directly to The Voice, email

HORSEHEADS, N.Y. – In the face of the 2016 election cycle where populist voters on the left and the right demanded change to a political system that benefits corporate and political collusion at the top, the new Trailblazers PAC will support candidates for local office who are committed to open and transparent government.

Leslie Danks Burke, a Democrat who outperformed most Democrats in 2016 by garnering 13 points above her party’s voter registration in New York’s rural, conservative 58th State Senate district, is launching Trailblazers PAC to send grassroots energy against politics-as-usual into races at the county level and below.

Trailblazers PAC’s innovative funding model will require candidates for local office to raise small-dollar funds to support their message of openness in government.

“If the 2016 election cycle was about anything, it was about people across the country waking up to what folks in New York State have seen for a while – the convergence of money and power at the top has warped our political process. It’s time for citizens to take back our democracy. Real, lasting change starts with getting people elected at the local level, where our property taxes are set, our schools are funded, and our roads are maintained,” said Leslie Danks Burke.

Trailblazers PAC will recruit and support the candidates that it endorses through a ground-breaking matching funds program that trains as it funds. “Too often, politicians see their message to voters as divorced from their fundraising message,” said Danks Burke.  “Trailblazers PAC recognizes that powerful relationships are built with the transfer of money, and we will educate candidates in building the donor relationship with their voter base. The outcome is a more successful candidate, and an officeholder accountable to constituents.”

Danks Burke points out that it should be no surprise that many candidates for higher office become beholden to large-donor interests, because so often local candidates cut their teeth in campaigns entirely financed by a single local political committee or a few local donors. Teaching candidates to develop a broad grassroots base will result in a solid foundation of good-government officeholders who can shape the country for the future.

To qualify for the matching funds, potential candidates will be required to meet thresholds that demonstrate commitment to grassroots engagement, including securing low dollar in-district donations, forming a political committee, conducting canvassing and outreach, and 100% transparency of campaign finances.

Featured photo by Ed  Dittenhoefer