ITHACA, NY -- Dr. Veronica Pillar today announces her candidacy for Tompkins County Legislature in District 2, which comprises Fall Creek, Cornell Heights, and the area between University and Stewart Avenues. Pillar is a local teacher and community activist who intends to push for racial and climate justice, genuinely affordable housing, resource accessibility, and open communication between grassroots community and local government.

A special election is slated for March 23 to fill Anna Kelles' seat after she left the legislature to begin her tenure with the state Assembly.

A resident of District 2 for nine years and Ithaca for over 10, Pillar moved here for a graduate program and became increasingly invested in the community. Ultimately, she decided to make Ithaca her home. She is a leader in the Tompkins County chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice and has recently worked with the Tompkins County Antiracist Coalition and Mutual Aid Tompkins.

“I am so encouraged by the grassroots movements, organizations, and overall care for each other that Ithacans show up with,” Pillar said. “I want to bring this spirit of active community into the legislature chambers.”

Pillar teaches physics and math at the Cascadilla School and at Tompkins Cortland Community College. She believes science education at all levels is valuable for understanding the world and works to empower her students to succeed in a multitude of life paths. In addition to earning a PhD in physics from Cornell, she has worked locally in childcare, agriculture, and food service. These positions have given her a breadth of experience and connected her with Ithaca’s diverse community of residents and workers.

As a legislator, Pillar hopes to work in collaboration with both government and community organizations on the following:

  • Raising the minimum wage to a living wage

  • Municipal broadband and progress toward a publicly-owned power grid

  • Genuinely affordable housing with paths to lower-cost ownership

  • Increasing local green jobs in conjunction with CASE board recommendations

  • Strengthening human rights protections through legal support and social services

  • Exploring methods of land reparations for indigenous people.

One of Pillar’s main goals is improving communication and collaboration between the legislature and the public.

“I got seriously interested in running after seeing community members advocating for basic resources and safety express significant frustration that those with institutional power aren’t truly hearing these needs,” Pillar said. “At the same time, we have some great progressive people in elected office right now, so I am confident we can make meaningful long-term improvements to the quality of life in Tompkins County.”

Pillar plans to actively build relationships with her constituents and other community members and to communicate updates from the government regularly through newsletters and social media.

“This kind of collaboration is critical to the creative problem-solving necessary to keep everyone safe and healthy through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” she said.

In seeking this office, Pillar’s primary commitment is to anti-racism, equity, and inclusivity in all spaces. She intends to remain accountable to the community, particularly Black, brown, trans, queer, low-income, unhoused, disabled, native, undocumented, and otherwise historically marginalized people. 

The special election for the District 2 legislature seat is on Tuesday, March 23. Anyone interested in Pillar’s campaign or in sharing their views can contact her at veronica.pillar@gmail.com, 607-252-6508, or facebook.com/VeronicaForTompkins.

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