ITHACA, N.Y. —Leslie Danks Burke finished her “Whistlestop” campaign kick-off tour with a stop at Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre Tuesday night.
After braving wintery conditions on a seven-stop tour that began at 8:30 a.m. with an event in Penn Yan, followed by stops in Watkins Glen, Hornell, Bath, Corning and Elmira. Danks Burke arrived just after 7 p.m. to applause from the few dozen supporters that had gathered in the lobby of the theatre.
Danks Burke delivered her pitch for the New York State Senate seat for the 58th District, currently held by Sen. Tom O’Mara to close out a marathon day.
“My opponent takes home one paycheck from the taxpayers and a second paycheck from his side job as a lobbyist,” said Danks Burke, referencing a 2018 report that Sen. O’Mara was being paid as an attorney by towns in his district. “He’s telling us there are plenty of jobs here and everything is fine. My opponent might talk a good game, but when he goes to Albany, he votes for programs that shortchange us on child care. The state funds universal pre-kindergarten for kids in New York City, but not here. How does that make sense? Pre-Kindergarten is good for kids and working parents whether you live in Bath or Brooklyn.“
Danks Burke, who announced her run for state Senate earlier this month, saying that the district — which covers five counties across the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier, doesn’t have a voice in Albany willing to stand up to special interests and dark money.
She was joined by Dr. Nia Nunn Board President of the Southside Community Center and associate professor of education at Ithaca College, who believes Danks Burke can finally give the region a voice in Albany.
“I’ve watched Leslie make her life’s work about clearing a path to get often ignored and silenced voices to the table,” said Nunn. “I know that in the state Senate, Leslie will keep on doing everything she can to amplify the voices of those who often don’t get heard, and I want an advocate like her there.”
A Democrat who moved to Ithaca in 2005, Danks Burke has taken a swing at political office previously, participating in the 2012 Democratic Primary for a shot to take on Rep. Tom Reed, where she fell to Nate Shinagawa. Followed most recently by a run for this same seat in 2016, losing 55-45 to Tom O’Mara.
“I’m fighting for our interests, we’re in this together. You and I, because you don’t have to take it from Albany politicians or downstate billionaires anymore,” said Danks Burke, closing out her stump speech. “This is our home. And I’m standing up to make sure that our children can stay and succeed here.”
No Democrat has announced intentions to also run for the seat, but any potential primary would be held June 23, with the General Election following on Tuesday, Nov. 3.