Dem races: Guns N’ Row A


Our congressman made national news the other day when he was ridiculed for comparing gun control to banning automobiles. Meanwhile, at the school in Chicago where my daughter teaches first grade, two little girls started the school year without a mother.

Mom and a friend were gunned down on the Friday before school opened as they sat talking in the middle of the afternoon. It wasn’t a mass shooting, and it wasn’t even the only gun murder of the weekend, so it didn’t make the TV news, though it did get added to the Chicago Sun Times homicide list. There was no mention of mental illness as a motivating factor.

Imagine living in a place where ordinary gun violence was not ordinary, where leaving a violent man wasn’t a potential death sentence, depression wasn’t easily ended with a bullet and a desire to be acknowledged didn’t mean marching into a public space brandishing a weapon of war.

I can’t even imagine being able to have an online conversation about guns that doesn’t devolve into name calling and ugliness.

Congressman Tom Reed’s remark that background checks aren’t politically popular proves that he doesn’t get out of his bubble much. His recent claim that we should not regulate “objects” is specious.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan regulated machine guns; Bill Clinton signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. None of this is new. If Reed or his president truly believed that mental illness was the root cause of gun violence, they would not have happily overturned the post-Sandy Hook Obama regulation that restricted gun ownership by those with severe mental health problems.

Reed panders to his Second-Amendment-or-bust supporters without bothering to speak to those of us in his district who might own weapons for hunting and may even have belonged to the NRA before it morphed into a political front, criminal conspiracy and wholly-owned subsidiary of the gun manufacturers. His arguments are as full of holes as a paper target and just as divorced from the reality of gun violence.

Power of the polls

Did you know that the row on which your candidates appear depends on who’s in the governor’s office? As long as a Democrat is governor of New York, Democratic candidates will appear on Row A, across the top of your ballot.

This year, the November ballot will see just a handful of contested races, with the race for justice of the Supreme Court in the 6th Judicial District being the only one that cuts across all towns and wards.

You will meet many of our contested candidates at fairs and on your front porch as the campaign season heats up. For now, I’ll just list their names and the races in which they will run.

Supreme Court:

There are three seats open in the 6th Judicial District, but only two Democrats are running: Pete Charnetsky, from Broome County, and Claudette Newman, from Otsego County. These New York Supreme Court seats encompass multiple counties, including Tompkins.

City of Ithaca:

None of the alderperson positions is contested, but Svante Myrick faces a third-party opponent in his race for Mayor.

Town of Caroline:

Incumbent Mark Witmer will face opposition for his seat as town supervisor. Bobby Spencer is the Democratic candidate for highway superintendent, a position that is being vacated due to retirement. Running for the two town board seats are current councilpersons Timothy Murray and Irene Weiser. You can find out more about them all at

Town of Dryden:

There are three people running for the two town board seats being vacated by retiring members. The Democratic candidates are James Skaley and Loren Sparling. Read about them at

Town of Enfield:

Three new-to-politics candidates are seeking town seats. Ellen Woods is running for the position of town clerk, and Stephanie Redmond and Robert Lynch are running for town board. Follow the Enfield Democrats on Facebook to learn more.

Town of Lansing:

Former County Legislator Michael Koplinka-Loehr is the Democratic candidate for town supervisor. Incumbent Andra Benson and newcomer Bronwyn Losey are candidates for town board. Learn more about the candidates at

There will be plenty of other names on the ballot, but these will be the races to watch as we head toward fall and the Nov. 5 election. Enjoy these last days of summer!

Kathy Zahler is Director of Communications for the Tompkins County Democratic Committee. See the committee website at


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