My name is Shawna Black and I have lived in Ithaca for over 20 years. I live with my wife and three children – ages 5, 8, and 12 – in the Northeast Area. I have a degree in Business Management and Economics. My wife, Margot, has been a Landscape Architect with Trowbridge, Wolf, Michaels for 19 years.
I’m running because I believe we need new energy and fresh leadership in our local government.
Currently, our legislature is comprised of 5 women and 9 men. There is 1 person of color and not one person from the LGBT community. Only 3 of the legislators have school aged children. This is clearly not representative of Tompkins County. We are a diverse population and need that diversity in our local government.
The issues that I will focus on when elected are childcare, housing, TCAT, and the opiate crisis.
As a parent I have direct experience with how expensive and inaccessible child care is for many families. When my third child was born and I was ready to go back to work we were faced with waitlists that ranged from six months to two years. Daycare options for a newborn start at $1,400 per month and go up to $1,950. As a legislator I will work with the Child Development Council and other partners on this problem, because we have to do better.
As the County’s Needs Assessment and Housing Summit showed, we have a housing crisis in Tompkins County. One of the most critical gaps is housing for seniors, many of whom are looking to downsize, but they can’t find appropriate housing to move into.
I know this part of our community well. For four years I worked at Brookdale Senior Living, rising through several positions to become Executive Director. If elected, I will focus on senior housing options that will help people find safe, affordable housing that fits their needs.
Third, the OPIATE CRISIS:
Currently, I work at the Southern Tier AIDS Program as the Privacy Officer. I write policy and procedure and insure that STAP is in compliance with all Department of Health regulations.
I believe in harm reduction and providing people with better options to help save lives and reduce the chance of transmitting diseases.
The need for more community based programs is essential. Tompkins County must be the leader in finding resources, improving the services we provide now, and creating new programs to tackle our drug crisis head-on.
As a recruiter for TCAT in 2014, I saw directly how the lack of funding impacted operations. Despite the wonderful service TCAT provides they have an aging fleet, an outdated building, and a constant struggle to maintain staff. The Town of Ithaca used to provide $50,000 a year to TCAT, but that’s been cut entirely. I plan to re-engage the Town to contribute their part to our local bus services.
We need people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to make decisions in our legislature. I have worked in the trenches and continue to serve people who have historically been underserved.
With the new administration we need someone who will fight for what is right and fair. Time and time again, I have done that, and I’ll continue to do so. I look forward to serving the people of District 11.