Ithaca Blog

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Swing to the Left: Ithaca Town Supervisor Stepping Down

Cathy Valentino, Democratic supervisor of the town of Ithaca, announced this week that she will not seek re-election after 12 years in the politically powerful post.

Valentino's powerful incumbency has consistently fended off challengers from the Republican party, as well as from the more liberal wing of her own party. Her tenure had a distinctly conservative cast, and her retirement presents a significant opportunity to progressive Democrats.

Tim Joseph, chair of the Tompkins County legislature, and a leading progressive Democrat, quickly announced his interest in the job.

Although technically the Town Supervisor's position is a lesser position than the one he holds, Joseph noted, "It's in a sense a lower level of government, but a higher office. The town supervisor has executive authority, which is something no one has at the Legislature."

Joseph's initial remarks about the position suggest a progressive agenda. He noted the influence the Town Board has over land use issues, and the importance of such issues in reducing dependence on oil, and protecting the environment - not overt concerns under Valentino.

Town Board member Herb Engman, also a Democrat, has also already expressed interest in the job.

No Republicans have come forward. The seat might be considered unwinnable by the Republicans in a town which is heavily Democratic, and perhaps increasingly liberal.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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