This is a Letter to the Editor written by City of Ithaca Common Council Alderperson George McGonigal. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, send them to Matt Butler at

I didn’t know much about Congressional candidate Jamie Cheney until I met her a few weeks ago.  That meeting was offered by Jamie and her campaign staff, something I very much appreciated as a member of Ithaca’s Common Council.  There are many issues here in Ithaca and Tompkins County that I would like our Congressional representative to know about and act upon.

Talking with Jamie left me impressed in many ways.  She is a down to earth person, and a good listener.  Jamie is a strong supporter of core Democratic Party positions: on reproductive rights; LGBTQ+ rights; advocating for unions and labor vs. corporate interests; gun legislation and climate change.  She is particularly interested in devising and supporting legislation that will improve economic conditions for working families, farmers and small business owners. Central to these efforts is her support for bringing back the federal extended child care tax credit, protecting and expanding Medicare and Social Security by raising the Social Security and Medicare income cap limits. This would allow vision, dental and hearing care to be included under Medicare, and would ensure Social Security’s long term viability.

Jamie is herself a small business owner, a farmer, and the mother of three young boys.  She founded her business, Prokanga, with the mission to help keep working parents in the workforce. Prokanga lobbies companies to provide healthcare, subsidized child care and flexible schedules for their employees. This work has helped thousands of parents stay in the workforce and provide for their families.

The newly created 19th Congressional District has been described as “purple”, meaning it could go either Democrat or Republican in this Fall’s election. It includes the small cities of Ithaca, Binghamton, Cortland, Kingston and Hudson. That said, the 19th is primarily a rural district, in which agriculture, particularly smaller family farms, plays a leading role in our economy and in our quality of life.  Jamie Cheney knows this first hand.  Together with her husband, she owns and works a Black Angus cattle farm at the eastern end of the District.

She understands the importance of fuel costs, access to farm credit, and the price of agricultural land that can make or break a small farming operation.  She has positive connections across the State with agricultural advocates like Cornell Cooperative Extension and has been active in the development of programs for youth in farming.

Keeping land affordable for farming goes hand in hand with keeping housing affordable for both renters and those who want to buy a family home.  Development pressures, and the growing trend of hedge fund bullies buying up housing and rural real estate for investment, (with no concern for locals who need a place to live and work), is a big problem throughout the 19th Congressional District, including here in Tompkins County.  Jamie Cheney has a record in the Hudson Valley of fighting to oppose these community damaging real estate trends. She will bring that expertise and commitment to Congress.

One thing that I think sets Jamey Cheney apart from her rivals in this race is her ability to listen and speak comfortably with people throughout the 19th District.

She knows that cow manure is more than a smell, and that local farmers provide us with fresh, essential foods of all kinds….She knows the challenges farmers face, be they Democrat or Republican. Jamie knows how important a woman’s right to choose is, be she Democrat or Republican   She understands the need for affordable and accessible healthcare, childcare and housing …everywhere in the 19th District. She has solid ideas and a record of making these things attainable. 

I will be voting for Jamie Cheney in this week’s 19th Congressional District’s Democratic Party primary. I encourage my fellow Democrats to vote for Jamie as well. Voting has begun and will end this coming Tuesday, August 23rd.


George McGonigal

City of Ithaca Common Council, First Ward