Endorsed by the New York Working Families Party, Veronica is the progressive in this race, and she will realize our values with bold action at the county level.
Housing as a Human Right
Every person has a right to a safe, stable, affordable, and accessible place to live. Yet Tompkins County is currently in a housing crisis as many residents struggle to find such places, whether as tenants or homeowners.
The Ithaca housing market is difficult for tenants, with a vacancy rate around 1%. Rising costs of renting or owning homes create serious financial burdens and force people to move further away from their communities and places of employment. New housing construction is critical to improving the market, but currently isn’t providing enough units that are affordable at lower incomes or that are accessible without private cars. Existing housing stock that is available at lower cost is often not maintained to reasonable standards.
Fortunately, we have lots of tools to address this crisis, and Veronica will use all of them to make affordable housing a reality.
- As your representative, Veronica will collaborate with city officials to increase the supply of housing and fight for tenant rights and landlord accountability. She will use the county’s oversight of the Industrial Development Agency to encourage housing development in accessible locations with much lower rents. Every person has a right to a safe, clean, stable, secure living space; building owners are not entitled to deprive anyone of those rights.
- Because Ithaca has a vacancy rate of less than 1%, we can and should opt into the Emergency Tenant Protection Act with the support of the county. But we have to move beyond emergency measures to solve the problem. We have to ensure that tax abatements aren’t just going to big developers; housing should be built by our local workforce and it should be green, safe, and accessible. We should require major developers, like Cornell, to pay their fair share in taxes or equivalent payments, rather than just hiking up property taxes on regular people.
- Veronica will work to extend and expand the Community Housing Development Fund, and to support housing trusts to make housing permanently affordable to homeowners.
- She’ll work to connect Tompkins County residents to existing services like the INHS and DSS while ensuring that residents’ safety and dignity is not compromised. She will also support HUD housing, as long as public housing is safe, clean, and not just used to concentrate our low-income residents.
Provide Municipal Broadband Internet
Fast, reliable internet connections will give people better access to school, work, healthcare, and more. Right now, much of our county does not have a reliable connection. This removes access to all sorts of resources — including healthcare, jobs, and community involvement — especially during this pandemic. Veronica will push to use the ongoing broadband study as the first step toward building a publicly owned internet utility as soon as possible so we can fully connect the county within a few years. She knows that we also need to move towards public ownership of other utilities such as electricity, rather than relying on big, private corporations that are more motivated by profit rather than by people.
Racial Justice and Public Safety
Veronica is dedicated to racial justice and equity. As a longtime organizer with Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), she knows the importance of advocating for antiracist policies and centering the voices and needs of people of color. She’s also experienced at bringing other white people into antiracist work. Now, it’s time to bring that experience into the county legislature.
- Veronica will center antiracism and equity in all legislation she works on.
- Black-led movements to rethink our public safety processes and end militarized policing have strong grassroots support. We need to continue their progress by ensuring that the community recommendations for the county from the Reimagining Public Safety project are actually implemented and lessening the burden on the sheriff’s office by funding alternative responses to emergency calls.
- Veronica knows that we also need to talk about antiracism outside of the criminal justice system. That’s why she is committed to the grassroots community, centering voices of poor people, Black, Brown, Indigenous people, disabled people, and people who are struggling the most.
- Tompkins County is located on land originally inhabited by Indigenous people, who were violently removed by colonial settlers. Veronica will explore ways the county can take responsibility for this history and engage in land reconciliation and reparation practices.
Better Wages and Workers’ Rights
The pandemic has shown what working people have known for a long time: the minimum wage just isn’t high enough to cover the cost of living. Veronica will fight for a livable wage, and will also use her position on the Tompkins County Legislature to push for statewide improvements.
- The county should require a living wage for all tax-abated projects, which we can enact without state permission.
- Veronica will also explore measures to enact a countywide minimum wage, in coordination with the local workforce.
- New developments in Tompkins County should be built by local workers who are well-paid, using green materials and practices. We can provide training programs to support this workforce. Veronica will work to implement the recommendations by the Climate and Sustainable Energy Advisory Board.
- We can and must address the climate crisis and wealth inequality at the same time. A program introducing new green jobs in the county will help us recover from the pandemic, prepare for the effects of global climate change, and build the infrastructure of the future.
- The fight for an economy that works for working people goes beyond the county level. Veronica will push the New York State government to act on its Democratic supermajority to provide universal healthcare, good green jobs, and more.
Transparency and Accountability
We need legislators who are directly accountable to the people they represent. Local government is the most impactful level of government, but most people aren’t aware of how it works or how to participate. Veronica will regularly publicize county news and opportunities and will actively involve her community in the governing process.
- Just because a meeting is technically publicized doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find or easy for residents to participate. Veronica will amplify announcements of upcoming public hearings and other county events and services, and will check in with constituents to make sure these things are accessible to all.
- Veronica will connect with grassroots organizers to make sure her constituents are being well represented.
- She will be accessible as a legislator: public forums, newsletters, and even public office hours will allow anyone in District 2 to get involved directly with the process.
- Finally, Veronica will make existing government services more accessible to District 2 residents. She’ll ensure that our task forces on issues ranging from racial justice to green jobs are staffed and funded. She’ll work to make the Office of Human Rights more active. And Veronica will use the county’s oversight of federal programs like HUD to ensure that our local government is efficient and effective for everyone.