TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. –– Deputy Director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and advocate for rural communities Vanessa Greenlee of Newfield has announced her candidacy for the Tompkins County Legislature to represent District 8.

The eighth district represents the Town of Newfield and a portion of the Town of Enfield. Greenlee is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party line. Randy Brown has also announced his candidacy, for the seat on the Republican ticket.

“As a resident of Newfield for eight years, I am privileged to have experienced the beautiful surroundings and natural resources that life in Tompkins County offers. It is time for us to do more so that our rural communities are resilient through times of uncertainty,” Greenlee said in her announcement. “Broadband expansion is an important step. Access to affordable, clean energy is another. The pandemic offers an opportunity to build back in ways that are different from before and more suited to our current climate reality.”

Greenlee notes her involvement in the Leadership Tompkins program, her work as the communications and training lead for the Breeding Insight program funded by USDA at Cornell University and her accomplishment founding the Mill Park Concert Series, as qualifications for the job. The main focuses of her campaign, according to her official candidacy announcement, are “food systems, energy and consumption, business development and who gets to participate in our democracy.”

She states, “I am running for County Legislature because we need people at the table who will search for diverse perspectives and seek to understand before making decisions. More often than not, we have interests and goals in common, even if we have contrasting social identities. My campaign is driven by the idea that powerful things can happen when we communicate across differences.”

Much of Greenlee’s professional life has been focused on bringing equity to rural communities. Starting out as a classroom teacher for 13 years, she saw the inequality her students faced, leading to her helping to create Innovation Academy, a free, experimental middle school in the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network with a “kindergarten to jobs” strategy for rural students.

Her current work involves communications and training for an agricultural project that, “makes predictive breeding technology a reality for smaller breeding programs, which is so important for reduction in crop inputs, less stress on limited field space, and agronomic varieties better suited to address new pests or diseases,” according to her campaign website.

“Our campaign team seeks broad representation for working together for quality of life in Enfield and Newfield. We are looking for people to share their passion, perspectives and willingness to learn together,” Greenlee said in a conclusion to the announcement.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at