ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler, a Republican, intends to challenge Democrat Lea Webb for her seat the New York State Senate.

Sigler confirmed his intention to run to The Ithaca Voice.  Initial news of Sigler’s campaign was was first published by Town of Enfield Councilperson Bob Lynch on his candidate website, where he writes about local politics.

Sigler filed an application for candidacy in July. His campaign sent out its first fundraising mailers shortly thereafter. 

Right now, Sigler said he’s focused on fundraising and is meeting with “a lot of people.” He said he’s also finishing the paperwork that comes with launching a political campaign. 

Sigler launched his campaign more than a year before the next election for 52nd state senate district in 2024. He is the first candidate—Republican or Democrat—to announce a challenge to Webb.

Webb, a Democrat with the endorsement of the Working Families Party, won a two-year term representing the 52nd state Senate District in 2022. The district encompasses all of Tompkins and Cortland Counties as well as part of Broome County, including the tri-cities area of Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott. 

It’s not the first time that Sigler, a self-described moderate, has run for higher office. Most recently, he launched a bid for  Congress in 2022 but dropped out after a messy redistricting lawsuit greatly changed the shape of the district.

Now, instead of Washington, Sigler has set his sights on Albany. 

“Part of the reason that I’m running is this idea that Albany kind of knows best,” Sigler said. He added that he thinks, “It doesn’t seem like the state is really  listening to the localities anymore, and we’re a home rule state. And that I find very frustrating,” Sigler said. 

He cited Governor Kathy Hochul’s failed plan to mandate localities to allow more housing. The policy, aimed at addressing the state’s housing shortage, fell apart after state representatives, particularly in the suburbs surrounding New York City, resisted the top-down approach. 

Webb, a former Binghamton City Councilmember, beat out Republican and former Binghamton Mayor Rich Davidby a narrow margin last year. She garnered about 50% of the total vote, while David earned just under 48%. 

Sigler said those odds are on his mind as he begins to lay the groundwork for his campaign. 

The Voice reached out to state Senator Webb’s office for a comment on Sigler’s campaign, and received a statement from Alex Elmasri, a spokesperson of the New York State Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“Senator Lea Webb has had a historic first term in the State Senate securing record school and infrastructure funding, and helping address affordability issues for residents in the 52nd senate district,” Elmasri said. “Mike Sigler will have a hard time running in this district on his MAGA agenda, focused on national scare tactics that ignore the real issues New Yorkers are facing.”

Sigler has previously said he was not “particularly proud” of the 2016 presidential election or “certain parts” of former Republican President Donald Trump’s personality.

“I’m known as a moderate, reasonable person,” Sigler said. “At least that’s the brand I think I have in Tompkins County. I guess we’ll find out.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of a spokesperson for the New York State Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His name is Alex Elmasri, not Alex Elmascri.

Jimmy Jordan is Senior Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact him at Connect with him on Twitter @jmmy_jrdn