Nate Shinagawa, a candidate for county legislature. Provided pic

Editor’s Note: Today the Ithaca Voice is publishing two letters about a race for the Tompkins County Legislature between former Legislator Nate Shinagawa and local advocate/resident Anna Kelles.

Below is a column supporting Shinagawa by Dan Cogan; read one supporting Kelles by Katie Stoner here.

Read more about Kelles here and Shinagawa here

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By Dan Cogan:

ITHACA, N.Y. — Last week, I and the other members of the Democratic Committee met with two very smart and articulate candidates running for our district’s vacant seat on the county legislature. Both impressed us with their passion and willingness to serve our community. However, Nate Shinagawa stood out. I’d like to share why I voted for Nate, and why I hope you will too.

Nate Shinagawa, a candidate for county legislature. Provided pic

Nate has served the City of Ithaca on the county legislature for the last ten years, representing East Hill, Downtown, and the southern end of Fall Creek. Due to his recent marriage, he stepped down from his seat to live with Janine in the house near Ithaca Falls he has owned for four years. Because it would be improper to represent a district where he no longer lives, Nate resigned with two years remaining on his term. However, he is still burning with the desire to serve our community.

Nate is driven to finish several important projects on the legislature, such as overseeing the deployment of body cameras for the sheriff’s department, and seeing through the review of the standoff in Danby. He was appointed to chair the Public Safety Committee this year because of his proven effectiveness over the last decade dealing with these types of sensitive issues. Changing horses in midstream would likely make it difficult for the legislature to see these issues through to completion.

Nate acknowledged he has sometimes had to miss meetings due to obligations to family, work, and when he ran for Congress. Over his ten years, he has missed fewer than 10% of the legislature’s meetings, and in spite of these occasions, Nate has been an active and effective legislator. He has chaired major committees and has earned a reputation among his colleagues as someone who listens well, drills down to the heart of an issue, and gets things done. When there is a difficult problem to solve, the chair of the legislature asks Nate to take it on. The chair stated in a letter to the committee that Nate “is a ‘fixer’ in all the best sense.”

Nate cares deeply about affordable housing, which is a critical issue in our city today. Given his long tenure on the legislature and the Industrial Development Agency, where I served with him for several years, he is well positioned to help move this issue forward over the next two years.

Nate ran an impressive and hard fought congressional campaign three years ago. He proudly put forward progressive ideas, such as opposition to fracking, and demonstrated that he is not one to change who he is or what he believes, despite the pressures of an election of national importance. While he unfortunately didn’t prevail in that race, we can now vote for him to serve us closer to home.

Nate intends to serve out the remaining two years of the term and then not run again. The Democratic Committee felt that it would be fairest to have the seat filled by someone not planning to run in 2017. In this way, no one will be given the advantage in that election, and voters will have time – considerably more time than for this special election – to get to know the candidates who will run in the next election, the winner of which may serve as our county legislator for the next decade or more.

I was proud to support Nate as a candidate for congress, and I am equally proud to support him to serve out the remaining two years on the county legislature. I believe that our district will be incredibly well served by having someone as experienced, effective, compassionate, and responsive as Nate representing us. I hope you will join me in supporting him on November 3rd.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.