ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County legislator and hospital administrator Nate Shinagawa is running to be the Democratic candidate for the proposed 23rd Congressional District in New York.
If he wins the June 26 primary, in which attorneys Leslie Danks Burke and Melissa Dobsonhe are also running, Shinagawa will face off with the Republican incumbent, Tom Reed, in November.
“I first ran for the Tompkins County Legislature to reform government by starting with my own community,” said Shinagawa. “Over the past six years, I have built a consistent voting record of supporting investment in infrastructure, promoting quality job growth and conserving the natural beauty of our region. I promise to fight for these same issues, essential to Southern Tier residents, while in Washington.”
A native of Sonoma County in Northern California, Shinagawa moved to the Finger Lakes region with his family over a decade ago. He has remained in the Southern Tier and has built upon his love of the region by serving in the Tompkins County Legislature, where he is currently vice chair. He has led the county’s Budget and Capital Committee, Government Performance and Workforce Relations Committee, and Health and Human Services Committee.
Shinagawa was a legislative aide to Assemblymember Barbara Lifton for two years, solving constituent concerns and helping develop policy on health-care and environmental issues.
For the last three years, he has served as an administrator for a non-profit hospital system nationally recognized for its high quality and low costs. He has championed a new culture of safety in health care, resulting in decreased infection rates, fewer medical errors, and greater employee safety than most other hospitals.
Shinagawa has brought this expertise to government as he has worked to broaden health-care access, reduce costs and improve overall quality. While chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, he helped successfully fight then-Gov. George Pataki’s proposed closure of Lakeside Nursing Home, which serves mostly Medicare and Medicaid patients.
During his tenure with the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency and the Economic Development Corporation, over $56 million in job-growth investment has been brought into the county. Shinagawa has also served on the Healthcare Subgroup of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council.
Understanding the connections between regional transportation centers and economic development, Shinagawa has served as vice chair of the Air Service Board of the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, working to make air transportation more affordable and expand regional services.
As his health-care career has necessitated travel throughout the Southern Tier, Shinagawa has heard the environmental protection concerns of many residents. Stating that public health, quality-of-life issues, costs to local governments, and environmental impacts have not been fully addressed, he has been opposed to hydraulic fracturing techniques for natural gas extraction.
During Tropical Storm Lee, Shinagawa served as Robert Packer Hospital’s incident commander and organized emergency support and medical care for nearby communities, working closely with first responders. His top priorities include proper funding of FEMA and support for emergency preparedness.
“Nate has the energy, determination and integrity to bring real change to Washington,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. “He’s a fighter who believes in opportunity, prosperity and justice for all Americans, not just the privileged few.”
“Over the past six years I’ve worked with Nate, he’s emerged as a skilled, progressive leader for the people of the Southern Tier,” said Martha Robertson, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. “He’s never been afraid to confront big corporations and powerful political leaders to do the right thing for working and middle-class people.”
“Nate is both the change and experience candidate,” said Caroline Town Supervisor Don Barber. “He’s successfully chaired major committees, negotiated budgets and challenged government to become more inclusive and efficient. I am confident he has what it takes to quickly become a leader for us in Washington.”
Shinagawa holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health administration from Cornell University.
His father, Larry Shinagawa, is an associate professor of American studies and director of the Asian American Studies Program at University of Maryland, and previously taught at Ithaca College and Sonoma State University.
The proposed 23rd Congressional District includes all of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins and Yates counties and part of Ontario and Tioga counties.
Shinagawa announced in April that the district has been recognized as an “emerging race” by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. That designation, part of the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, highlights candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns.