ITHACA, N.Y.—New York State Sen. Lea Webb opened her new office in Ithaca Monday, cutting the ribbon at the officefront at 217 North Aurora Street in front of a small crowd of spectators. The opening marks Webb’s first official senate office in the city since she was elected in November 2022.
Webb, a former Binghamton City Council member, was joined by several local elected officials, including Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis, Tompkins County Legislature Chair Shawna Black, and fellow legislator Anne Koreman, City of Ithaca Alderperson and mayoral candidate Robert Cantelmo and Webb’s counterpart in the state legislature, Assemblymember Anna Kelles.
“I want to clarify, this is not my office, this is the community’s office, our community office,” Webb said over applause. “Having a physical presence, it speaks volumes. Having staff, having the opportunity to engage with community partners where you can see, in real time, the hopefully positive and equitable impacts of the policies and practices that you engage in as a legislator.”
Webb thanked State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for her encouragement and guidance while Webb assessed opening an Ithaca office, noting that Stewart-Cousins emphasized the importance of having an office accessible to constituents throughout one’s district.
Cantelmo noted that State Senator Tom O’Mara, who still serves in the state senate but does not represent Tompkins County anymore because of redistricting, did not have an office in Ithaca during his decade-plus representing the district.
“What an exciting moment, for me, to personally have a state senator within a block-and-a-half of the legislature and our assemblywoman down the street,” Black said, referring to Webb’s and Kelles’ offices, respectively. “This is like a dream come true.”
Webb urged for participation in the teacher supply drive as the beginning of the new school year arrives, as well as a reiteration of her request, made at a public rally earlier this month with Kelles, that Gov. Kathy Hochul sign the bill that would allow the Ithaca Carshare to continue operating.
To conclude, Webb repeated the importance of maintaining an office in population centers in her district, and urged that constituents utilize the office and its staff to air grievances, address concerns and make their voices heard.
“It’s really a public-centered approach that we have to take to government,” Webb said. “We not only want to be accessible, but we want you to have a positive experience. Constituents, when they interact with government, it’s not always positive. It’s often adversarial. That’s something we are working to change. That doesn’t mean we won’t have disagreements, but we will always be listening.”