ITHACA, N.Y. — Campaign finance disclosures from the three candidates in Ithaca’s mayoral race show nearly equal fundraising efforts from the campaigns of Acting Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis and Independent candidate Katie Sims. But Lewis trails Sims in terms of spending, fitting with what has been a comparatively low-key Mayoral campaign for Ithaca’s acting executive.
The year’s election is an odd one. Lewis, Sims, and Republican Zach Winn are racing against one another to fill a single year term as Mayor of Ithaca. Lewis assumed office in February 2022 after former Mayor Svante Myrick appointed her per city code, after he announced he was leaving his position to take the role of Executive Director at People for the American Way, a progressive think tank. The single year term will finish the four years that Myrick was supposed to serve, and in 2023 there will be an election to choose a Mayor of Ithaca for a normal four year term.
In her effort to continue serving as Ithaca’s Mayor, Lewis’ most recent campaign finance disclosures show she has raised a total of $6,893.16, though she has only spent $411.12 of it, with the largest expense being with Arnold Printing, which her campaign stated was for palm cards.
Update (11/01/2022): After this article was originally published, Lewis’ campaign contacted The Ithaca Voice to say that it has spent $4,057 on political mailers and postcards to send to voters. Lewis’ campaign provided receipts for these expenses to The Ithaca Voice, and stated that the expenses don’t appear in the disclosures because they were incurred after the most recent cut-off date for filing the finances of the campaign, which was Oct. 24. The provided receipts support this explanation.
Sims, a tenant’s rights and climate activist who has not held elected office before, has raised $6,845.58, and has spent $2,698.82. Sims’ disclosures show that she’s used the money to pay for the usual political campaign staples, like yard signs, but also for the specialized services from Nationbuilder, a software company that provides website hosting, credit card processing, and mass communications channels.
Winn’s campaign finance disclosures show he’s brought in $769.89, most of which is in the form of non-monetary contributions. The Tompkins County Republican Party contributed $489.89 in the form of “property given” to Winn. Tompkins County Legislator and Chair of the county Republican Party Mike Sigler, paid for $160 of Winn’s campaign expenses. With barely more than 6% of Ithaca’s voters registered as Republican, Winn’s campaign seems a longshot between Sims’ and Lewis’ bid for mayor.
Of 108 unique contributions, the average sized donation that Sims’ campaign has received was $64.31, while Lewis’ average donation size is $202.74 from 34 individual contributions. The Tompkins County Democratic Committee secured the rank of first and second largest donations to Lewis’ campaign with a $500 and $1,500 contribution.
The largest contributions Sims received was $1,000 from the Rochester Regional Joint Board Political Education Committee, a worker’s union associated PAC, and another $1,000 contribution from Adelaide Park Gomer, an Ithaca resident and President of the Park Foundation. Park Gomer is an inheritor of the Duncan Hines foods and Park Communications fortunes, and has a reputation for her left leaning political activism.
The left leaning Sims has been operating what appears to be the most robust campaign of the three candidates. For those willing to count while they walk or drive the city streets, Sims’ red-and-white lawn signs seem to outnumber those of Winn. Lewis’ campaign has chosen not to use yard signs citing that the landfill waste that they create as reason.
Lewis has had the better part of a year in the Mayor’s Office, and about five years sitting on Ithaca’s Common Council to cement her reputation in the minds of voters. Though she has the incumbent’s advantage, it will be weighed against the exposure Sims has been vigorously creating for herself.
Correction (11/01/2022): Laura Lewis’ campaign for Mayor of Ithaca has stated that Lewis has chosen not to use yard signs to promote her candidacy, citing the waste they create as reason. This article originally noted the lack of Lewis for Mayor signs compared to signs for Katie Sims’ campaign.