ITHACA, N.Y.—There will indeed be at least one third party candidate in the November election for Ithaca Common Council, as the Solidarity Slate group has announced a replacement candidate for Shaniya Foster, who dropped out of the First Ward race in early June.

The Slate, a newly-formed progressive group aiming for political power that claims to be fueled solely by issues instead of individual candidates, announced that Maddie Halpert will appear on the ballot, challenging incumbent First Ward Alderperson Cynthia Brock. Foster and fellow challenger Yasmin Rashid did still appear on the Democratic primary ballot, even though both had dropped out of the race—Foster received 40 votes and Rashid received 41 votes to Brock’s 339. Halpert is running under a third party ticket.

Halpert, joins Phoebe Brown and George DeFendini as Solidarity Slate candidates, who are running in the Second Ward and Fourth Ward, respectively. Neither Brown nor DeFendini were challenged in the primaries. According to a press release announcing Halpert’s candidacy, she has been endorsed by the Ithaca Tenants Union and the Democratic Socialists of America.

“I got involved with the Solidarity Slate coordinating volunteers and leading our door-knocking efforts, inspired by the conversations and grassroots network we are building,” Halpert said. “Having worked with Niya during her race, at first when she dropped out I was pretty sad, and also frustrated with the representative electoral process we have.”

The candidacy announcement states that Halpert grew up in Ithaca and returned to the city in January 2020, working at Cornell as a plant breeder while working on her graduate degree on the “politics of seeds and food sovereignty.” Since returning, the release said she has been otherwise involved in organizing efforts centered on justice in Palestine, climate policy reform and growing food for mutual aid networks.

A video accompanying the announcement contains comments from Brown and DeFendini, the former of which said that substituting in Halpert after Foster’s exit speaks to the power of movement politics over individual politics—something the Slate often touts.

“Given the unexpected circumstances, putting forth another candidate committed to these values feels like a way to live up to the policy-centered politics of the Slate,” Halpert said. “And for me, it’s just another way of being present for my community and showing up for movements centered on human rights, community, and care–another way of showing up alongside everyone involved.”

Matt Butler

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