The candidates for the County Legislature’s special election to fill the open seat in district two faced off in a virtual debate on March 11, hosted by the League of Women Voters. Leslie Schill and Veronica Pillar each got the chance to tell voters a bit more about their platforms, as well as answer questions about affordable housing, tax rates, public transportation and reimagining public safety.
Schill explained that her platform is focused on public health, and that her first priority will be supporting the county’s department of health through the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pillar is an activist and grassroots organizer who said she’s running to be the bridge between the community and local government.
There was a significant amount of focus on affordable housing, and Pillar said she would advocate for more clearly defining what affordable means and for whom and ensuring the income target lower, so that affordable housing is actually affordable to low income residents. Schill said she supports a more dense and diverse housing portfolio to better serve the needs of residents and force market rates down. She also thinks reevaluating property assessments methods to prevent the consistent rise in property taxes would be helpful too.
Both spoke a bit about economic recovery following the pandemic. Schill said she’s interested in workforce development and tying into local trades, as well as ensuring everyone has the mental health services they need to deal with the fallout from the tough economic times. Pillar said she would prioritize advocacy to Albany for relief, as well as bringing wages up to a living wage so that people have more money to put into the economy. Both agreed getting people vaccinated is the first step toward economic recovery.
Keep an eye on newsstands March 17 (and after on Ithaca.com) for the full recap of the debate. The election is on March 23.