ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County Sheriff Kenneth Lansing confirmed Thursday afternoon that he is strongly favoring running for re-election in 2018 after previously saying on multiple occasions that he would not seek the position again.

“There’s a lot of things going on, as you well know, that this office has supported whole heatedly…I feel that sometimes it should be my obligation, along with my staff, to see these things through,” he said. “I feel I may and should run.”

Lansing was first elected as an Independence Party candidate in 2010, beating out Democrat incumbent Peter Meskill. Lansing ran unopposed for the position in 2014. He formerly served as chief of the Cayuga Heights Police Department where he worked for 33 years. Throughout his law enforcement career, he also worked part time with departments in Dryden and Trumansburg.

Among two local projects he said he’s invested in seeing through are projects related to reducing the jail population and determining how the department could help with the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in Ithaca and, possibly, county-wide.

LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is a new program being developed that will offer people an alternative to going to jail, instead working with a case manager to get services that could include housing, medical care, food, and self-harm reduction or rehabilitation services.

“Well, we have supported it since the city took the lead (on planning),” he said.

A deputy in his department has been attending LEAD informative training sessions, and Lansing said he has heard talks from sheriffs in Seattle and Albany about how the program had benefited their communities.

In the county, however, there would have to be a joint effort by local governments if the sheriff’s department wants to run a successful program.

“You have to have buy-in from everybody…,” he said and, if he were to be sheriff and that comes to fruition, he would work with local governments to try to make a LEAD program work county-wide.

“Yes, we would work with them, but we still could obviously take part in a (city) LEAD program,” Lansing said.

It’s the LEAD program that will help with another project driving him to consider re-election: lowering jail population.

“It’s really important that we do our best to keep the jail population down, and there’s a lot of great projects that we’ve been doing…,” he said.
He said he’s committed to helping have jail programs that could stop recidivism and enable people to live quality lives in their community, and there’s still a long way to go.
He said, “Law enforcement has been my life for a lot of years…Enough people came to me and talked to me about it and asked me to reconsider (a re-election bid) and I said sure.”
Lansing stopped just short of officially announcing that he’s running for re-election, but he said, “I’m surely contemplating it, yeah.”

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.