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Lifton, Leifer, MurtaghBarbara Lifton, Jason Leifer (center), Seph Murtagh

NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton announced last Friday she will not run for a new term representing District 125 (125AD, Tompkins/Cortland).  On Sunday Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer (D) and City of Ithaca Common Councilman (2nd Ward) Seph Murtagh (D) both announced that they will seek election to Lifton's Assembly seat.  Lifton made her announcement in Dryden last Friday, focusing on her efforts to protect voting rights, to guarantee safer home births for midwives, and the fracking battle that resulted in a permanent ban in New York State.

"Wherever I go in this two-county district, all of Tompkins and much of Cortland County," said Assemblywoman Lifton, "people have been very kind and encouraging, and I appreciate it greatly.  Honestly, I've had to wrestle with this decision, because critical work remains on climate and education and health care, among other issues about which I care deeply. But that will always be the case, I know, that important work remains, and I decided that the time has come for me to put down this work."

Leifer is an attorney, and has been Dryden Town Supervisor since 2016.  Prior to that he served as a Dryden councilman starting in 2008.  He worked with the Dryden community to ban hydro-fracking, and to bring better wifi access.  Leifer said he wants to reduce unfunded mandates and change school funding from the regressive property tax to a progressive income tax that he says is more equitable. He spoke in support of  local farms and small businesses, and creating a sustainable and unique local agricultural economy that provides local foods to our region's residents and attracts agritourism to support our local service industries.

Leifer said rural schools should be fully funded, and advocated for better health care at a lower cost. He also said he wants to do more to fight the opiate crisis, steering solutions away from jail and toward recovery and providing a support system for addicts.

"Addressing our local issues at the state level requires vision, experience, and an established record of action and success. – all of which I have," he said. "If elected, I know I can get our State Government to listen better and work more closely with our Counties, Cities, Towns, and Villages to improve the lives of all of residents. I have promoted teamwork across municipalities throughout my career and would continue to do so as Representative for our Assembly District."

Raised in Trumansburg and now living in Ithaca, Murtagh has been Lifton's Communications Coordinator since 2015, and an Ithaca City Councilman since 2012.  Prior to that he was a journalist, writing lecturer, and political organizer.  As an Ithaca councilman he chairs the Planning and Economic Development Committee and as the Alternate Acting Mayor.

"The problems that face us are immense," Murtagh said. "But I've never been more confident about the future of this state. Working together, we can make New York a place where everyone has access to a living-wage job, healthcare, and an affordable place to live. We can relieve upstate residents of burdensome and regressive property taxes. We can repair the decades-old inequities in education funding to ensure that all New York's children receive a quality education. And in the face of a growing climate catastrophe, we can build for a green, sustainable future."

Lifton served as Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Marty Luster for fourteen years before running for his seat in 2002.  She was a member of the steering committee of the Tompkins County Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, co-founded the Coalition for Community Unity, served on the Cornell/Community Waste Management Committee and was a member of the Ithaca Area Health Care Network.

"Needless to say, it takes many faithful supporters to continue this work over 18 years," she said. "I can't thank you all enough. And deep thanks to all the voters, Democrats, Working Families, Republicans, and Independents who have given me their vote of confidence at the polls in each of my nine elections. I have done my best to listen respectfully to all views and take them into account as I've made difficult and complicated decisions over these 18 years and my staff and I have worked hard to fairly serve all of my approximately 135,000 constituents."

Leifer and Murtagh will be on the ballot for the June 23rd primary election.

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