Leslie Danks Burke speaks at a protest by Verizon workers in Ithaca back in April. Photo by Mike Blaney

Note: This is a letter to the Editor from Tompkins Legislature Anna Kelles. It was NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact me at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com.

ITHACA, N.Y. — We need Albany to take note and act on the needs of upstate NY and Leslie Danks-Burke, as our state Senator, can make this happen.  Leslie is currently running for the 58th district seat against opponent Tom O’Mara.

Coming from a farming family, Leslie understands the need to preserve the way of life in our rural communities and balance it with the ever increasing development and infrastructure needs of our growing urban centers. Preserving our farmland and dedicated farming families not only bolsters local economies, it supports the citizens that have some of the greatest power to protect our environment.  We have a policy system now that bleeds farmers so deeply that they cannot sufficiently protect their livelihood or the land they depend on.

Leslie understands this and will fight to improve these policies.  She is also keenly aware of the burden that the rapidly increasing population pressures have on our few urban centers and will demand that the money the state continually earmarks for infrastructure development is fairly distributed throughout the state rather than funneled exclusively downstate.

Leslie Danks Burke speaks at a protest by Verizon workers in Ithaca back in April. Photo by Mike Blaney/The Ithaca Voice

She will fight not only for infrastructure funding but the funding earmarked at the state level to enhance the green jobs sector and sustainable energy infrastructure.

The federal government is continually creating new program mandates.  Mandates that we need like child protection and oversight in daycare facilities.

Unfortunately, these mandates come down unfunded.  More than most states in the country, Albany passes these unfunded mandates on to counties, destabilizing local governments, creating local job loss, and creating an inability to maintain physical infrastructures and quality social service programs. This in turn creates a greater tax burden on our citizens.

In my many conversations with Leslie, not only does she understand this, I can see it incenses her.  She is affected by the plight we experience at the local level and is always seeking creative ways to relieve the pressure.  She will fight for us in Albany with the savvy of a seasoned lawyer and the determination of a mother bear protecting her young.

As an educator myself, I have seen the strain that the current testing system and inadequate school funding has put on school administrators, teachers and students alike.

Anna Kelles

We need a representative who understands this and will fight for funding and a reevaluation of our test requirements. Leslie is a mother of two young children and a long time participant on education boards and as part of the PTA.

We can count on her to listen to the insights of the dedicated teachers and administrators who work in the education trenches to find the solutions that will work to empower our children and foster an equitable and just system.

Do I sound highly enthusiastic about Leslie?  I am.

More than even her credentials and her commitments, which alone are impressive, I am enthusiastic about endorsing Leslie because of her determination, humility and sincerity.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know her through shared political work and what I have found is a good person, a grounded committed woman who understands what it means to be a civil servant.

Please join me in supporting Leslie so we can get the support we need from Albany.

Anna Kelles, PhD

Tompkins County Legislator, District 2