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Southern Tier State Senate candidates emerge with districts still unclear

Senate Update WEB

Updated: 12/25/21 – 11:00 P.M.

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — Despite not having legislative districts defined for 2022’s general election, candidates are declaring their intentions to run for State Senate across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes.

All State Senate districts encompassing the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier are currently represented by Republicans. Democrats are hopeful the new districts may give them a leg up over previous election cycles.

Leslie Danks Burke

Leslie Danks Burke is a lawyer residing in Ithaca. She ran two unsuccessful bids against State Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-52) in 2016 and 2020, but touts that she made inroads with voters and performed well in a Republican-skewed district.

“That's what we have to do as Democrats, speaking with my Democratic hat on, is reach out across divides and make sure that we are bringing our message not just inside the circle, but to everyone,” Danks Burke said.

Danks Burke officially launched her bid in October. She said she plans to continue connecting with voters and building support around the region as the state finalizes the district lines.

Richard David

Binghamton Mayor Rich David, a Republican, announced his intention to run for State Senate over the summer.

“I’ve supported law enforcement as mayor, making sure the Binghamton Police Department has the resources necessary to keep our community safe,” David said at his announcement.

David served eight years as mayor and is prevented from running again due to term limits. His path to run for State Senate was cleared when current State Senator Fred Akshar (R-52) announced he would not seek reelection and instead would run for Broome County sheriff.

Thomas Quiter

Thomas Quiter*, a Chenango County resident says he plans to run for State Senate as a Libertarian in 2022.

"I've spent many years reaching out to those who are failed by our government and lifting them,” Quiter said in a promotional video posted to his website.

Quiter unsuccessfully ran against Akshar in 2020.

Tom O’Mara

Tom O’Mara (R-58) has served in the State Senate representing the 58th district since 2013. The district encompasses Ithaca as well as parts of Chemung, Schuyler, Yates and Steuben counties. The Republican told WSKG he plans to run again in 2022.

“We need to focus on creating opportunities for individuals to advance themselves, not opportunities for another government handout,” O’Mara wrote in a statement to WSKG. “We need to reestablish individual liberty and freedom.”

O’Mara most recently served as ranking member on the State Senate’s finance and investigations and government operations committees.

Lea Webb

Former Binghamton City Council Member Lea Webb declared her State Senate candidacy in two announcements this month– the first in Binghamton and another in Ithaca.

Webb, a Democrat, said she wants to serve in Albany to raise voices of people who feel left out of the political process.

"There is a growing disconnect between our elected leadership in understanding the struggles that everyday people are facing in our community and they're passing policies that reflect this awareness,” Webb said. “Instead of creating a pathway to progress, to collective progress, there seems to be a commitment to playing politics and maintaining the supremacy of the status quo."

Ammitai Worob

Ammitai Worob** is a chiropractor who runs his own practice in the City of Ithaca. He said he wants to bring his expertise as a health professional and small business owner to Albany.

"I'm really focusing on the policies because I think that's what's most important," Worob said. "What makes me different is my lived experience and the success I've had in different areas that are important to all New Yorkers."

Worob said he plans to run as a Democrat. While he has filed his candidacy and launched a Facebook page for his campaign, Worob said he plans to make a formal announcement in the coming weeks.

Jillian Forstadt contributed reporting to this story.

*This story has been updated with Mr. Quiter's correct first name.

**This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Mr. Worob's last name.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.