In 2012, State Senator Tom O’Mara was unopposed in the general election for the 58th district of New York. This state senate district covered all of Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties, and a portion of Tompkins County (the city and town of Ithaca, and the towns of Enfield, Newfield and Ulysses). At the same time that Tom O’Mara was unopposed, Barack Obama won his state senate district 50% to 47% according to election results. The only time someone opposed O’Mara was in 2010, a Republican landslide year.
Ever since then Senator O’Mara has gone without a democratic challenger. It shows that both local democrats and the state party have not been able to recruit a candidate within the counties that comprise the 58th district of New York
Some say it’s because he’s an entrenched incumbent in a district within a Republican held congressional district. Others say it’s because those who fund him will never stop funding him. Out of a small hill we have made a mountain. This is something we Democrats are good at; we make mountains out of mole hills.
Tom O’Mara takes money from big oil; he ignores his constituents or outright insults them. He calls anyone who disagrees with an expletive.
Natural gas development has always been something that has been opposed by majorities of people in the Southern Tier. Tom O’mara has always favored it. The insults he hurled at one constituent are insults he hurled at all constituents. What he supports and what the people of the Southern Tier want are two different futures.
The time has come to realize that Tom O’Mara is not some legislative deity. He can be defeated. It is time to realize that the contempt he showed towards a constituent in a video published by the Albany Times Union is what he thinks of his constituents.
Regardless of what one’s opinion is about Crestwood, one must agree that Senator O’Mara was out of line when he shouted obscenities at a harmless constituent.
If that is how he treats those who have the encouragement to get involved in their communities then his “apology” was not an apology. It was merely a justification for his behavior.
O’Mara didn’t even apologize for what he said, but only apologized about how he said it.
When someone says, I don’t like the backhanded tactics in a supposed apology; it’s an attempt to spread the blame for his behavior. Even if a constituent is asking you questions which you think are invasive, a legislator never has the ground to insult said constituent or get aggressive with someone they represent.
So if Tom O’Mara really wants to apologize for his behavior he needs to not seem so alienated from the concerns of his constituents. He needs to actually talk to the community and not hide in Albany.
This is also his biggest flaw and what makes him vulnerable. For any legislator to be filmed attacking, harassing, or assaulting his constituents and try to justify the behavior with a halfhearted apology shows how out of touch with the district he is.
For a State senator who represents more than three counties he rarely makes public appearances, he has no active social media presence, and the only time I have ever seen him hold a town hall meeting was with Tom Reed.
By reacting the way he did,State Senator Tom O’mara has had his Michael Grimm moment.
This proposed LPG facility is the biggest “not in my backyard” issue of the Southern Tier. Mobilization that the Seneca Lake defenders are inspiring is the sort of get out the vote effort needed to inspire people to come out and vote. But it’s not just Ithaca liberals, its people from every county in the district and the crowd is bipartisan.
The fact that an industry which gives campaign contributions to Senator O’Mara is having a problem with community relations is just icing on the cake. That company and industry can and are being directly linked to Tom O’Mara.
As the constituent in the video said, Tom O’Mara is an interesting fella. With a one seat Republican majority in the State Senate, and Democrats across the state mobilizing to take back the Senate, this district, our home should be a 2016 electoral battleground.
If Chevron, Chesapeake Energy and others can be defeated by the people of the Southern Tier and New York state then so can their pawns.
State Senator Tom O’Mara’s days as our representative are numbered either now or in redistricting in 2020. For the sake of our home and our community let’s elect someone who will defend the Southern Tier, and fight for our towns and our hills, lakes, and of course our beloved wine.
As some have said in the past this is ours for the taking. The motto for the upcoming elections in 2016: “We are all Seneca Lake!”