Leslie's top priority as a Legislator will be to address COVID in Tompkins County. She knows we can't advance any efforts – aspirational, practical, or operational – until the COVID pandemic is addressed. Therefore, she will support the Department of Health in rolling out vaccine distribution as quickly and efficiently as possible. To ensure the health and safety of our whole community this means continuing to allocate resources – for testing and vaccinating locations, for logistics, for messaging to our community including addressing vaccine hesitancy, and for elevating the community's needs to the NYS Governor’s Office. COVID has disproportionately impacted communities of color and senior citizens. Leslie knows we must tailor our vaccination roll out to reflect this reality. She will work tirelessly for this cause.
As the pandemic recedes, Leslie will take advantage of the raised visibility of our public health imperative to deal with other priority health issues in our community: mental health, physical well being, child and maternal health, women’s health, and racial justice.
As a working mother, Leslie is too aware of the pressures parents face when searching for quality, available and affordable childcare. We need more help, and we need to provide better support for families and children. To support our working families, Leslie will work on this long-time need in our community to provide quality environments for our children.
Right now, some of our families are struggling with food insecurity, which has huge impacts on children. A dependable source of breakfast and lunch become a crisis when schools close. Leslie will propose a new initiative for the County Legislature to partner with local schools to support children and students to meet this need. It will be the beginning of a number of efforts she will propose, in partnership with ICSD, to ensure equity and positive outcomes for all children.
Leslie is a strong proponent of increasing our local housing stock, specifically affordable housing. Tompkins County has an acute need for housing that is affordable to working people and families. To retain our vibrant neighborhoods, we need to find creative opportunities to build more and diverse housing types that offer people real choices to meet their needs.
Leslie is immensely qualified to lead on housing. She is currently the Vice Chair of Tompkins County Planning Advisory Board and Program Oversight Committee member of the Community Housing Development Fund. While at the County Planning Department, Leslie managed the Community Housing Development Fund, and now serves as a member of the Program Oversight Committee of this important program. It has helped to leverage millions of dollars of funding from NYS and the Federal government for housing development in Tompkins County over 11 years, yielding more than 600 new, affordable units--and 200 more are in the pipeline. This model initiative is a funding partnership between the County, Cornell, and the City. She will make sure we are supporting this effort and explore additional avenues for expanding and improving housing.
We need quality, skilled jobs that pay well and support people who want to live in this community. Too often families and individuals leave this community because they cannot find employment. Leslie will propose the creation of a workforce development pipeline in partnership with TC3, large local employers, and local trades people to train for jobs in: traditional trades, a growing energy sector, and health sector. She will also propose a new initiative for a local Civilian Conservation Corps, focused on public works projects that revitalize our parks and infrastructure.
We have an amazing small business community that requires our support and advocacy for state and federal government for relief now. Leslie will advocate for financial assistance and relief so that we can shore up our local storefronts and the jobs they provide.
Leslie wants to be a representative for ALL of District 2 and will work relentlessly to advance racial justice, diversity, and equity for our community members. County government legislation, policy, and operations must embed these principles in process and decisions. Leslie will serve as a conduit between the community and County government by establishing real public engagement, setting goals, and finding solutions together to ensure that equity is highlighted in the Legislature. She will be a voice for policy and action that highlights the complex relationships between sustainable development, housing, transportation, economic opportunity, and environment that together impact equity and inclusion in communities.
Leslie is a long-time practitioner and advocate for advancing climate action, preserving our natural resources, and investing in parks and open spaces. She is committed to expanding renewables, increasing the efficiency of our buildings, and exploring new technologies and land use practices to reduce our carbon footprint. Leslie served on the Solar Tompkins Board for 2 years during an incredibly successful effort to deploy solar panels in this community.
She will also push for water quality and land conservation projects that preserve our unique natural resources. Leslie would push the County to prioritize outdoor recreation and open spaces that need revitalizing and funding. During our year of COVID, this need has grown, as people are utilizing parks and open spaces at record rates.
Leslie pledges to promote progressive policies with transparent, responsive, and accessible representation. She believes good government is the cornerstone of a democracy, providing the public good - services and infrastructure - that benefit the entire community. Leslie has the experience, knowledge, commitment, and motivation to move this goal forward.