BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – The race for the newly drawn 52nd State Senate district pits 2 former Binghamton elected officials against each other, Republican Rich David versus Democrat Lea Webb.
Long before she became the first Black woman elected to City Council, Webb began working on social justice issues in her community.
Lea Webb was born and raised in Binghamton and served 2 terms on Binghamton City Council. But her background in public service dates back to when she was a teenager.
“I actually started doing community organizing right here in Binghamton at the age of 15,” says Webb. “Making sure that community members had food during the holidays.”
Webb says she also organized around increasing healthcare access, advocating for good-paying jobs and encouraging the state and city to ban fracking. She says that work laid the foundation for building collaborative teams to address complex issues.
“You need to have the voices of community members that are especially most affected by those issues at the decision-making tables while the discourse is happening, not after the decision has already been made.”
Webb is a firm supporter of an Equality Amendment to the New York State Constitution which would, among other things, enshrine the right to an abortion in the state. If it passes in the next legislature, it will go to the voters for ratification next year. But, Webb says more can and should be done.
“Expanding more access to reproductive care. Whether you think about issues around birth control, resources, education and awareness, those are other areas that we can continue to ensure.”
When it comes to criminal justice reform, Webb says a more comprehensive look needs to be taken at what leads people to commit crimes. She says a variety of challenges, including poverty, lack of affordable housing, mental illness, substance use disorder and domestic violence, are factors in driving crime rates up.
“All of these challenges impact the manner in which folks enter into the criminal justice system and that’s why I think we need a comprehensive strategy that addresses all of those things.”
Webb says she’s pleased that the state included 5 billion dollars in this year’s budget to support affordable housing. She says she worked on City Council to establish a first-time homebuyers incentive program. Webb says there should be similar help for seniors who need to make costly repairs in order to stay in their homes. And she’s critical of the state’s tax structure, claiming that it overly burdens working families while the ultra-wealthy fail to pay their fair share. She’s pledging to fight for her ideals when she gets to Albany.
“Our communities have a better quality of life from birth. Not just simply during an election cycle. I think it’s bigger than that and our communities deserve it. And I will ensure that we make that happen.”
Webb says she’s proud to center the voices of working families in everything she does.
The 52nd District is undergoing a significant change.
For decades, it has combined all of Broome and Tioga Counties with a portion of Chenango.
Starting next year, it will include the western portion of Broome along with all of Cortland and Tompkins Counties.
You can find out more information about local races on the Your Local Elections page.