GROTON, N.Y. — When Faith Tyler decided to run for mayor as a Democrat in the deeply red village of Groton, she knew it wouldn’t be an easy race.

“I knew it was going to be an uphill battle,” Tyler said. “I went into this thinking, ‘If we win this thing, it’s going to be a really big upset.”

She lost the election 134 to 226, with incumbent Republican Christopher Neville being chosen for the two-year term.

Related — Results: Who won Tompkins County village elections?

While the loss is disappointing, she doesn’t think her campaign was for naught.

“Just because I’m not going to be the mayor, doesn’t mean that this is a loss. The opposite. We’ve built community with Democrats . We’ve raised, you know, some objections to the way things have been run. I think people are going to hold the board more accountable,” she said.

Making change in the community, she said, was the whole point of deciding to run for office.

For instance, she said her friend, a liberal, was at a recent village board meeting discussing fire codes and felt that trustees were being receptive.

Getting new faces out to village board meetings and having people voice concerns — about sidewalk repairs, property values, crosswalks, food accessibility — is part of democracy.

“I hope that this does kind of light a fire for them to make some good changes in this community,” she said.

Running for office also did something else important for local Democrats, Tyler said. It gave the public a scope of what kind of numbers are needed for a win in post-Donald Trump rural New York.

“I’m half Jewish. I’m a woman. I’m young. I’ve never held a public seat before. But that doesn’t mean I’m not qualified,” she said “I don’t want any of those factors — that the Republicans are dominant or that patriarchy is in control or that there has been, you know, a push back against liberalism — to stand in my way of what I think is right and what I think is right is trying to go for a position that I know I would be really good at.”

She said she began thinking about running for some kind of public office — likely as a trustee in the village of Groton — after the Democratic party selected Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders as a presidential nominee. She voted for Clinton in the presidential election and when Trump won, she decided to run for mayor, despite the odds being stacked against her.

And it was a learning experience where she figured out what worked in the community and what didn’t.

She said anyone facing an uphill political battle — a Democrat in Groton or a Republican in Ithaca — would serve their community well just to run a campaign.

“I gave people hope and, yeah, it’s a little bit of a letdown not to win. But it’s exciting to have that opportunity to make people feel like they are having someone represent their values. They just don’t happen to be the majority in Groton. But just because you’re the minority doesn’t mean you’re going to stop speaking up.”

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.