TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Environmental safety specialist Samantha Lushtak has announced her candidacy to replace outgoing Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson to represent District 13.

Lushtak, an Ellis Hollow resident, runs Absolute Environmental, Health and Safety, a consulting and safety support service firm. She’s been working in safety for over 10 years, though over the past year she has been focusing on COVID-19 preparedness, and has a husband and young daughter.

“I’m running now because I believe that bringing people together from different socio-economic backgrounds should no longer be a talking point, it must be a practice,” Lushtak said in her announcement. “The job of a lawmaker is to help facilitate experts working together, doing everything in their power to help ensure all voices are heard.”

Robertson, a longtime legislator, announced last week that she would not be seeking re-election. Lushtak reiterated that she would emphasize elevating voices that may otherwise go unheard, whether they be the aforementioned experts or someone who might feel disenfranchised from the legislative process as it is now—regardless of the efforts made by lawmakers to include them.

Touting her legislative agenda, Lushtak said she would be working towards continuing the COVID-19 response and recovery, advancing the re-imagining public safety initiative and “adapting police budgets to be used effectively,” supporting accessible and pop-up healthcare, and increasing the affordable housing stock.

With COVID-19 dominating daily life, Lushtak’s work over the last year has included starting a dedicated website and podcast for coronavirus education, as well as working with a team at GIAC “to develop protocols that allowed the Alex Haley pool to reopen over the summer” and make sure the pool reopened safely and effectively.

“Following the tenure of Martha is daunting but I hope to continue with her efforts to advocate for safe affordable housing, support our schools, children, teachers, and caregivers, as well as helping our residents get through this global pandemic,” she said.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com