Amanda Kirchgessner, the young progressive that ran against State Senator Tom O’Mara in last year’s election, is ready to get back into politics. Kirchgessner is gearing up to run for Town Supervisor of Enfield as a Democrat.
After her last campaign, Kirchgessner wasn’t sure if she would get back into politics. During the campaign Kirchgessner’s ex-wife, Brandi Morgan went public with accusations that the State Senate candidate had been physically abusive towards her in a story in the Ithaca Times.
“It taught me a lot about who my real friends are,” she said of what she learned after the last election. “It taught me a lot about what I feel is really important and that is family, love, your commitments, your obligations, focus.” She said she lost a lot of friends after the election and even considered moving away. During the race, Kirchgessner said she got a temporary order of protection against Morgan because, she claims, of harassment from Morgan and her family. The order, she said, has since been lifted.
“I think my experiences with my ex-wife actually make me more relatable to most people,” she said. Kirchgessner has argued since the story came out, that she was the victim of emotional abuse in that relationship, and that she believes many people don’t realize they are victims because of the manipulation of the abuser.
Now, she’s decided to get back into politics for the same reasons and issues she ran in the first place, she said. Since Enfield recently changed their voting process from a caucus to a primary Kirchgessner sees an opportunity to engage more local voters.
“An engaged electorate is what we need now more than ever,” she said. Kirchgessner is currently living in Enfield with her sister to help take care of her sister’s 3-year-old child. Since November she said she’s been working and paying off her debt.
Locally, Kirchgessner made a name for herself as a progressive activist during her campaign, but she hasn’t been doing much in that capacity since the election. Elected officials, she said, don’t seem to want to listen to local residents and their concerns. One of the organizations she has remained involved with is the Immigrant’s Rights Coalition, which has concerns about the possibility of federal immigration agencies coming to the expanded Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.
“I know some folks are disappointed that I’m not diving in on activism,” she said. “The problem seems to be that you can show up to every meeting, they don’t seem to want to listen.”
Unless they actively seek out meetings with individuals concerned about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the area, Kirchgessner said elected officials won’t understand how the community that could be affected feels.
In Enfield, one of the biggest parts of her platform is fostering sustainable economic development. She sees opportunities for more agriculture and green energy-related economic growth.
“Enfield needs economic viability,” she said. “Trying to create an environment that’s very friendly and welcoming to new farmers. A lot of our farmers are aging.”
Part of this plan would focus on meeting local and regional food needs. But it’s not just growing food that she sees possibilities in, it’s every aspect of the process. Storage, greenhouse growing, and production of locally grown produce are also on her radar.
“Processing I think is where the real money is,” she said. “Because that would bring in people who aren’t necessarily growing food but need jobs, whether it be canning food or drying food, or whatever it might be.”
Ultimately, she said she would like to see Enfield residents be able to afford food grown in their own community.
Creating a communal space, like a community center, for the area is also part of her platform. While there have been attempts in the past to get something built, ultimately the funds for such a project weren’t viable. She would also like to see a library come to Enfield, whether that be a bookmobile or opening a new branch of the local library system.
Kirchgessner grew up in Enfield and remembers it as a much more vibrant community. Now, the houses next door to the house she grew up in stand empty.
“Enfield is just this place of cheap real estate that nobody seems to care about,” she said. “Except for the people of Enfield.”
Currently, Enfield is under a solar moratorium. Kirchgessner is open to the idea of solar and wind coming to Enfield, but only if they are economically and communally beneficial to the town.
She said she hasn’t ruled out a run for state office, or higher, in the future. But right now, the race for Enfield Town Supervisor feels manageable and important.
“I do like knowing who I serve,” she said.
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