ITHACA, N.Y. — Jordan Lesser, long-time Legislative Counsel to Assemblymember Barbara Lifton, announced he will run for the 125th Assembly District on Monday, following Lifton’s decision not to seek a tenth term.
“For over 10 years, I have had the honor of working for Assemblywoman Lifton in both the Albany and Ithaca offices, on every piece of legislation, many policy initiatives, and the state budget,” said Lesser. “As a native Ithacan, an environmental attorney, and with many educators in my family, I understand both the needs of the district and how to accomplish the goals of our local communities in Albany.”
As counsel to Assemblymember Lifton, Lesser authored a number of Amicus briefs in support of the Town of Dryden local zoning ban at all three court levels in the landmark hydrofracking lawsuit, which ultimately lead to a statewide moratorium on fracking, that Lifton hopes to codify in statute this year.
He also played a role in the development of our state’s Aquatic Invasive Species Law and has expertise in many critical areas of environmental and energy policy, including climate change, according to a press release Monday afternoon.
“I worked closely with hundreds of residents of Tompkins and Cortland counties and many local advocacy groups during the 7-year battle to stop fracking in New York, all of whom were concerned about risks to their drinking water, including the sole source aquifer providing water to all residents of Cortland, and about protecting the beauty and economy of the region,” said Lesser. “My legal and legislative work as Counsel to Assemblywoman Lifton, as well as close work with constituents, put me in an ideal position to continue this critical work toward an effective state climate action plan and other important environmental initiatives.”
Lesser also plans to carry on the legacy of Lifton by making education a key plank in his platform.
“I will continue to fight for full funding for PreK-12 Education, underfunded by $3.4 billion according to the CFE court ruling, as we know education is key to helping people reach their full potential and to create a prosperous community and state. Of course, I will put the same level of commitment into funding for higher education for both our public system, including SUNY Cortland and the four SUNY colleges at Cornell, as well our fine private colleges and university,” said Lesser. “I also strongly support the Tuition Assistance Program and higher education opportunity programs to help our talented students enter the schools of their choice, both public and private.”
Lesser, a graduate of Ithaca High School, has a BA in History from Cornell University and a J.D. from Tulane Law School. Prior to his policy work with Assemblymember Lifton, he worked for the Ithaca-based Law firm, Schlather, Stumbar, Parks & Salk. Lesser also worked as a National Park Ranger and led an international wildlife conservation law reform initiative in Namibia in 2016.
He was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 in NYS policy and politics by City and State magazine in 2018 for his work as Counsel with Lifton. He is also a member of the Tompkins County and Town of Ithaca Democratic Committees.
Lesser Joins a crowded field of Democrats seeking the seat including Lisa Hoeschele, of Cortland, who announced last week, City of Ithaca Alderperson Seph Murtagh, Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer, Tompkins County Legislator Anna Kelles and Cortland County Legislator Beau Harbin have also announced their candidacy.
Petitions to appear on the ballot will begin circulating on Feb. 25 and are due to the Board of Elections between March 30 and April 2. The primary election will take place June 23 ahead of the general election on Nov. 3