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NY Assembly Member Barbara Lifton Retires After This Year

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) - New York Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton announced on Friday in Dryden that she will not run for another term after this year.

The Democrat represents the 125th Assembly district which includes Tompkins County and parts of Cortland County. She has served in the Legislature since 2002.

Prior to running for office she was chief of staff to Assemblyman Marty Luster who represented the same district.

On Friday, Lifton spoke about her difficulty deciding to run for office and then making the decision to retire.

"Honestly, I’ve had to wrestle with this decision because critical work remains on climate and education and health care among other issues about which I care deeply," she said. "But, that will always be the case, I know, that important work remains and I’ve decided that the time has come for me to put down this work."

Her voice broke a few times during the announcement but the event was not all sentiment. She used the moment to point toward work that needs to be done and singled out the failure of theExcelsior Scholarship Program. She said there's more that should be done to reduce student debt.

"I hope there will be a renewed discussion about the critical importance of higher education for the well-being of our state and country," Lifton said. "And the immorality, not to mention stupidity, of foisting these significant costs onto the shoulders of young people in the form of student debt."

Lifton spoke to a crowd which included present and former staffers and Democrat elected officials from around the district.

Some spoke about her commitment to her constituents, deep knowledge of issues and generosity with younger politicians.

Several Democratic officials and party leaders spoke about her legacy. Many saying her work against frackingwas critical to keeping the industry out of New York. She said she hopes fracking will be banned permanently this year.