Tompkins Weekly Staff
For several months, Amanda Champion has been the lone candidate announced to represent the 12th District on the Tompkins County Legislature.
But last week another candidate emerged – Jennifer Karius, who filed independent nominating petitions to appear on the Freedom and Equality line on the ballot in the November general election.
“After running elections for other people at national and state levels, I would like to bring my skills and perspectives to the residents of Tompkins County as a legislator,” Karius said in a press release. “For many years, I have helped others with their campaigns and it never occurred to me that I should seek office. While I came to that realization too late in this election cycle to run on the Democratic ballot line, I still had the chance to run independently and have chosen to do so under my own party line.”
In the press release, she touted her work in “grassroots constituency building to make the case for operable democratic government at a time in our nation when it is under attack.”
According to Karius, she developed a unique perspective on the U.S. through the lens of her international relations study while living in the Netherlands. She was fortunate enough to re-educate herself completely after 15 years of professional classical ballet with the San Francisco Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet. After her bachelor’s degree, she returned to the U.S. to advocate for democracy in a post Bush versus Gore environment and the onset of the Iraq War, where her then 40-year-old brother served.
She picked up advocacy campaigning after landing in Washington, D.C. during the financial crisis, campaigned for clean energy and labor legislation, and innovated events to educate and activate on the issues of election integrity and voting rights preceding Obama’s first election. For years, Karius continued to work regularly in the Netherlands in order to retain her residency there to keep her healthcare and an affordable home.
She pursued a master’s degree in public administration – which she obtained from the Maxwell School in Syracuse in 2011 – on the recommendation of her stepfather who was a high-level government reformist. After graduating from Maxwell she continued to do research-related work, and returned to grassroots campaigning. She jumped on a campaign to form a statewide healthcare workers union in Minnesota that launched her into work with candidates. She has since managed field operations – most recently a high-profile Congressional primary in Maryland and, before that, for the governor of Connecticut. A potential campaign with a local candidate brought her back home to the Ithaca area.
In closing her press release, Karius noted her gratitude for “her opportunity to stay in the Netherlands for so many years and for the outlook it gave her about her own country and her role in it. She is now thankful for her home amid the natural wonders she drinks in each day living in District 12 that rings around the southern and western part of Ithaca.”