ITHACA, N.Y.—Former New York State Assemblymember Barbara Lifton has endorsed Vanessa Fajans-Turner in the Democratic primary for New York’s 22nd Congressional District.

Lifton, who announced her retirement in 2020 after several terms in the Assembly representing parts of Tompkins and Cortland Counties, said she sees a problem-solver in Fajans-Turner. Fajans-Turner is one of several Democrats pursuing the nomination after New York redrew the district to make it newly favorable after years as a Republican stronghold — though the general election will be contested by Republicans as well, including Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler. The primary election will be held June 28.

Though they have been familiar for several years, Lifton said, she and Fajans-Turner didn’t work together until the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[Fajans-Turner] reached out to me to quickly link with our State Department of Health so she could get specifications for the state’s PPE needs, as she was raising money and working with contacts abroad to order tens of thousands of masks for overwhelmed hospitals across New York,” Lifton said. “I was in awe as I watched her put the pieces together, and within a short couple of weeks, she was receiving very large packages of masks and delivering them to some of our hardest-hit hospitals, promising to continue that work to try to help any hospital across New York State that was affected and in need of supplies.”

Lifton went on to call Fajans-Turner “talented and caring” and praised her dedication to climate change legislation. As has been highlighted before, Lifton emphasized Fajans-Turner’s national work in pushing back on the fossil fuel industry.

“As her resume makes clear, she understands the science, the financing, and crucially for this Congressional seat, the nature of the political battle to seriously and immediately tackle the climate crisis,” Lifton said.

“I am so honored to have Assembly Member Lifton’s support in this race for Congress. Barbara was a progressive champion for Tompkins County in the State Legislature and continues to be a progressive voice and leader in our region today,” Fajans-Turner said in the announcement. “It’s in her inspiring mold that I’ll seek to serve in Congress — to deliver on bold, transformative change to ensure the future of our planet, to fight for the green jobs those changes will create, and to advocate for those that are too often marginalized by policymakers. I can’t wait to hit the campaign trail with her as we seek to bring my message about creating a new, green economy right here in Upstate New York to Washington.”

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at