ITHACA, N.Y.—Hot off a Wednesday debate with the other candidates racing in the Democratic primary for New York State Lt. Governor, activist Ana María Archila stopped in Ithaca on Friday to rack up the endorsements of Tompkins County progressives and connect with local environmentalists.
The state office of Lt. Governor is often looked at as a symbolic position, deployed for ribbon cuttings, tie-breaking votes in the state Senate, and is responsible for being ever poised as the second in line to succeed the governor if ever they must leave office in before their term is up, such in the case of Kathy Hochul’s ascension to the governorship after Andrew Cuomo stepped down amid allegations of sexual harassment in a mounting scandal.
The Lt. Governor’s executive duties, if any, are largely delegated to them by the Governor. But Archila is campaigning on treating the position as a megaphone to voice the progressive agenda she’s championed throughout the state on the campaign trail.
“You cannot just sit there and be quiet and cut ribbons. You have to be useful to people,” Archila told reporters on Friday during a visit with New York State Assemblymember Anna Kelles. “New Yorkers are facing a real crisis in their lives on housing, on the care they need, whether it is childcare or elder care. Obviously there is a real urgency to tackle climate, and all of these things could use a powerful advocate in Albany.”
Archila immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when she was in her teens, and cut her teeth in New York City working as an advocate in the areas of immigrant rights, education access, GBTQ rights, and worker’s rights among other issues. She’s running with fellow progressive Jumaane Williams, who is aiming for governor.
Archila is running against New York City Council Member Diana Reyna and former Hudson Valley congressional Rep. Antonio Delgado for Lt. Governor. Delgado stands to be the most formidable candidate in the race, being Governor Hochul’s running mate and boasting a campaign fundraising effort that has mirrored Hochul’s — one that far outpaces their rivals. Although, Delgado stepped into the race amid scandal, with Hochul’s original pick for the position, Brian Benjamin, stepping down after being indicted on charges of campaign finance corruption. Benjamin pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The tumultuous beginning to the primaries put wind in the sails of Archila and progressives. If elected, Archila said if she were elected to the position she would work “deeply” and “collaboratively” with the Governor that is elected in November, but she stressed that the Lt. Governor position should be its own voice.
“I’m not shy about saying that this position needs to act with independence, and that means that this position needs to help the governor, assist the governor, deliver real solutions to the governor, and also stand up to the governor when necessary.”
Also on Friday, Archila exchanged endorsements with the Solidarity Slate of Ithaca at an outdoor event on North Tioga Street. Flanked by Common Council member Jorge DeFendini and council candidate Tiffany Kumar, among others, Archila spoke at length about her priorities if she wins the LG election and her disappointment with the state’s current leadership.
DeFendini announced that he and other Ithaca politicians were officially endorsing Archila’s run, including Common Council members Robert Cantelmo, Ducson Nguyen, and Phoebe Brown, along with Kumar. DeFendini said Archila’s vision aligns with the Solidarity Slate’s stated positions on renter rights, climate change and a desire for “a better city,” intentions they believe Archila can take statewide.
“We live in a state that is one of the richest in the country, but also one of the most unequal,” Archila said. “We live in a place where most New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. That is because of decisions by politicians who prioritize the demands of billionaires and corporations […] and ask the rest of us to wait. Wait for better jobs, wait for safer schools, wait for affordable housing, wait for action on the climate. We are tired of waiting.”
She further lambasted state lawmakers for leaving the recent Albany session without action on good cause eviction legislation or climate change.
This visit marked Archila’s second visit to Ithaca in the last month, as she met with Starbucks workers in May in the wake of their unionization vote. She made sure to address Starbucks as well, with the East Seneca Street location serving as the backdrop to the event; just six days prior, a picket line scolded Starbucks management for its decision to close the Collegetown location just months after the unionization vote.
“‘They tried to bury us, but they did not know that we were seeds,’” Archila said, invoking what she said was an old Mexican proverb. “Starbucks has tried to bury the courage and the will of workers, but they do not understand that what these workers did was plant seeds of solidarity and courage that will reverberate again and again in Ithaca and beyond.”
While speaking, Archila also endorsed Kumar’s run for Common Council. Kumar is facing fellow Democrat Patrick Mehler as he attempts to retain his seat representing the Fourth Ward. Additionally, she issued a forceful call to Governor Kathy Hochul to sign proof-of-work cryptocurrency legislation that the governor seems likely to neglect for at least the next several months, despite it passing both the New York State Senate and Assembly.
“We need a candidate who’s grounded in solidarity and mass movements, the needs of the people,” said Veronica Pillar, Tompkins County legislator for District 2 and another notable local progressive who came out in support of Archila on Friday. “Coming into the halls of government, it’s easy to get absorbed in and manipulated by corporate, big-money interests but I know this will not happen with Ana María, because I know that she feels solidarity in her bones.”