Ithaca Common Council Alderperson Seph Murtagh has announced that he will seek the New York State Assembly seat for the 125th Assembly District, currently occupied by Barbara Lifton. Murtagh, who represents the city's Second Ward on Common Council, works as communications coordinator for Lifton, who announced late last week that she would not seek a 10th term.
"[Lifton's] announcement marks the closing of an incredible career of service to her constituents in the 125th, marked by hard fought battles for the environment, voting rights, healthcare, and education, among many others," Murtagh wrote in his announcement. "She’s been an exceptional role model to me and others in our community."
Murtagh, a Democrat, will have to best a field that is sure to attract strong interest from local politicians. The Democratic primary will be held in June. The 125th District includes Tompkins County, the City of Cortland and smaller parts of Cortland County.
Murtagh wrote in the press release that he made the decision to run with "great respect" for Lifton and the office itself. Murtagh is in his third term on Ithaca's Common Council, representing the Second Ward. He currently chairs the Planning and Economic Development Committee for the City of Ithaca. On the PEDC and during his previous campaign runs, Murtagh has touted his work on the abundant affordable housing issues and public infrastructure.
"I’ve watched this region change, but its residents remain committed to the values that make it a wonderful place to live: a love and respect for nature, a strong commitment to education, and a keen sense of democracy," Murtagh wrote. "I am proud to serve on Ithaca’s Common Council where we study and debate difficult issues as a team. We are the opposite of what we see coming out of the White House. We govern in service to our constituents with respect and transparency, which is exactly the approach I will bring to this race and, if elected, to this seat."
Murtagh also went on to state that if elected, he'd be fighting "burdensome and regressive" property taxes and supporting reforms to the education system funding that would theoretically reduce inequity in New York State.
"The Assembly District includes both Tompkins County and part of Cortland County, so it's really important that the representative in this seat engage with all communities within the district," Murtagh said. "Barbara Lifton has done an excellent job of that, and I think it's important for the next representative to do the same."
His announcement included endorsements from fellow Common Council members Laura Lewis and Deb Mohlenoff, both of the Fifth Ward, as well as former Uylsses Town Supervisor Liz Thomas.