ldcaucus_120Kathy Miller was voted the Democratic candidate for Lansing Town Supervisor Thursday when Lansing Democrats held a caucus to elect candidates for this November's Democratic slate.  Miller defeated sitting Supervisor Scott Pinney and Deputy Supervisor Connie Wilcox for the nomination.

"I want to thank everybody for coming out," she said.  "This has been an interesting experience to say the least.  I want to thank everybody for their support of me, and we'll see what happens in the Fall."

Well over a hundred people filled the Lansing Community Center for the caucus, 110 of them registered Democrats, making them eligible to vote in the caucus.  Pinney is finishing  his first term as Supervisor, and Wilcox has been a councilwoman for eight years.  Miller was elected to the Town Board last year, and has been the Chair of the Town Center Committee and an active voice in protecting the town from the perils of fracking.

In general the three agreed on the issues.  All said that protecting the town from possible damage by hydrofracking is the most important issue facing Lansing today.  Pinney and Wilcox defended Lansing's strategy on holding back to see what other townships are doing on the grounds that Lansing is learning by the other towns' experiences and that going slower will mean that Lansing will end up with laws and regulations that cannot be challenged in court.  But Miller said Lansing has been dragging its feet over fracking, and would like to pick up the pace.

ldcaucus_votecountCaucus Chair Hurf Sheldon counts the vote for Supervisor with tellers appointed by himself and the candidates.

Wilcox and Miller were asked why they would make a better Supervisor than Pinney.  Wilcox spoke of her experience serving eight years on the board, the various committees she has served on and accomplishments like establishing the Lansing Farmer's Market.  Miller said she would be better because she has the time.  Pinney runs a paving company that demands his time, especially in the summer months.  Miller said that is a problem.

"One of the problems I've heard from people is that it is hard to get hold of Scott because he's not there," she said.  "I'm not trying to cast aspersions, but I really think that this is a job where you need to be in the seat.  Because I will have the time to sit there and listen to people.  When they come in to talk about something or share ideas I will be able to put the time in.  This job is supposed to be 16 hours a week in the seat.  That's a lot of time and a lot of work.  Maybe you don't think that's important, but I do."

After a brief introduction by party Chair Marce Bean, Hurf Sheldon was elected chair of the caucus, and County Legislator Pat Pryor was elected secretary.  After nominations were taken each candidate had a chance to address the caucus and answer questions.  Non-Democrats were asked to step out for the balloting to insure that everyone left in the room was legitimately eligible to vote.  Tellers were nominated by each candidate and Sheldon.  A ballot vote was taken, moderated and counted by tellers Susan Mix, Suzanne Hinderliter, Ruth Hopkins, and Gay Nicholson.  The vote was 69 for Miller, 35 for Pinney, and 6 for Wilcox.

Pinney was gracious in defeat.  He says he will not run for a second term.

"I'd like to thank everybody for coming out tonight and I'd like to congratulate Kathy Miller," he said.  "That was a great job getting everybody out here to vote.  Good luck."

ldcaucus_candidatesLeft to right, Kathy Miller, Scott Pinney, Connie Wilcox, Michael Koplinka-Loehr

In addition to the Supervisor position Wilcox's and Republican Marty Christopher's town board terms are up.  Christopher is not running.  Wilcox and Michael Koplinka-Loehr were chosen last night to run for those seats on the Democratic ticket.  Koplinka-Loehr was the Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, and has been working on green energy initiatives in Lansing since moving here recently.

Republican incumbents Highway Superintendent Jack French, Town Clerk Debbie Crandall, and Justice John Howell were endorsed by the Democrats.  Caucus chair Hurf Sheldon says they will appear on both the Republican and Democratic lines on the ballot.  Many left after the Supervisor vote, leaving about 75 people to vote for the other candidates.

Wilcox and Koplinka-Loehr will be challenged by Republicans Ed laVigne and Andra Benson.

ldcaucus_roomThe room filled with standing room only for the Supervisor nominee vote.

Or... possibly not.  Wilcox says she will seek enough signatures to run for Supervisor on the Independent line.  She said that while Democrats didn't think she had contributed enough to be their candidate that she has the experience to do the job.

"I continue to work to make the goals that we have such as the Town Center and ag-land protection law happen, and I will continue to do those things no matter what," she said.  "I think part of the problem here tonight is my association with Scott, and I think a lot of people see that as a negative.  But when Scott bought the business I had worked there ten years.  What was I supposed to do?  Quit my job?  But I am willing to do the work (of councilwoman or supervisor).  I don't know what else you want me to do.  I'm always available, and I will work hard to be a town councilperson, but I do plan to file a petition as an independent for Supervisor."

If Wilcox or any of the other Democratic nominees drop their candidacy before the deadline around the nomination, a vacancy committee can appoint an alternate candidate to run in the general election.  Ted Laux, Ruth Hopkins, Donna Scott, Dan Konowalo, and Hurf Sheldon were voted to serve on that committee.