It was a chance meeting at Curley's Restaurant in downtown Auburn that made Elane Daly, a then senior at Niagara University, remain in her hometown. She met her husband Kevin there, and the rest is history, she said.

After getting her bachelor's of science in nursing, the Cayuga County Health Department hired the 22-year-old to be a public health nurse, and Daly found herself driving all over the 72-mile-long county in a government car that had no air conditioning and no radio. She'd prop her boom box up front, she said, to listen to some tunes.

"I guess you could call it my grass roots orientation to the county," she told an audience at the IGNITE forum on Oct. 10. "I was driving around wondering where Ira Station was, and praying I wouldn't get lost in Lake Como. It was an education."

It was an education that brought her up the ranks to the position as director of health and human services for the county, which she was from 1999 to 2014. Now she hopes to take on a new position servicing Cayuga County, as legislator for District 11. Daly is running on the Democrat, Working Families and Auburn First party lines against Republican and Conservative candidate Mike Lesch.

In an interview with The Citizen Oct. 9, Daly said she'd never saw herself stepping into the political spotlight. After Legislator Frank Reginelli announced he would not be seeking re-election, a few people called her up and suggested she run. Having spent 24 years with the Cayuga County Health Department, she's worked under all three past county administrators, she said. She's seen the area through a department-head view, and feels that will be an asset to the body that oversees a $143 million budget.

"I thought, you know, I guess, why not me?" she said when considering running. "I care a lot about the community, and I have a solid county background and experience. I have a lot of involvement in this community, and currently still." 

Besides her work experience, Daly thinks there needs to be more diversity on the Legislature. With only one female legislator currently, Aileen McNabb-Coleman, Daly hopes voters will add at least one more to the entity. She said McNabb-Coleman has encouraged her to run, too. Daly said she believes women can offer a different perspective.

She hopes, if elected, that more stability is brought to the next county administrator. She plans to take a look at what services are mandated, and what are not, looking for ways to make the government run more efficiently and keep tax growth under control. 

After going door-to-door campaigning, she said Owasco Lake and water quality are important issues to constituents. She hopes to bring attention to the lake and take a part in protecting water resources, too. 

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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County Government Reporter