This is a letter to the editor in support of New York State Senate candidate Lea Webb, written by Ithaca resident Kathy Russell. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, please send them to Matt Butler at

The impossible will take a little while. So said Billie Holiday and she should know. Those of us in the fight for social justice know too. In the face of the disastrous, misogynist  Supreme Court decision on Roe and all the other things — police violence against people of color and trans people, discrimination of all kinds, the prison industrial complex, political divisiveness, the emergency of climate change and more — we keep on keeping on. One step at a time. 

Many of us across the country are working for a more just and equitable society by organizing to get more progressive women of color in local and state-wide positions. Structural racism, sexism and classism have produced the makeup of who is in office as well as the entrenched electoral system we have now, including exactly who is able to gather the campaign funds and have even enough time in the day to run for office. 

Electing candidates like LEA WEBB for NYS Senate is a step forward and one we need to take so that we can get people in government who have not yet had a seat at the table.

To make real transformative changes, we need people in government who can truly represent the diversity of our communities. More people from historically marginalized populations should be in office.

Lea Webb is on the ballot for the Democratic primary Aug 23, endorsed by the Working Families Party and Tompkins County Progressives. Her roster of supporters is impressive: Anna Kelles, Svante Myrick, Barbara Lifton, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Martha Robertson, Veronica Pillar, Irene Weiser and former Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan. Many are convinced that we need progressive, experienced, courageous women of color in state office.

Lea has clearly proven that she has a deep knowledge of policy issues. It took real courage and strength to be the first African American and the youngest person ever elected to the Binghamton City Council.  And her work won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency,  and was recognized by both Oprah magazine and the White House Project. 

Her leadership efforts in passing equal pay legislation, fighting for a city ban on fracking, the expansion of affordable urban and rural housing, standing up to landlords for tenants’ rights, and creating a city-based human rights commission have shown that she has what it takes to fight for the issues that matter in our district! She walked picket lines to get better health care benefits in union contracts, collaborated with others to establish an award-winning city-wide climate action plan, and supported small business development and job creation. Webb knows how to expand opportunities for civic engagement and increase active, marginalized voices in our communities.

Yes, we have a long way to go and progress can seem distant and difficult, especially right now. We have to build from the local level. Electing proven, diverse leaders like Lea Webb is certainly a step in the right direction.