John G. Hertzler, who portrayed General Martok on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and was elected to the Ulysses Town Board in 2013, will challenge Rep. Tom Reed for New York’s 23rd Congressional District Seat, he announced on Friday.
The actor moved from Southern California to Central New York over a decade ago as a visiting professor teaching drama at Cornell University, and decided to stick around. He has appeared in numerous local plays.
He got involved in local politics as an opponent of hydrofracking, and ran on the Democratic ticket for a Ulysses Town Board seat in the fall of 2013. He began his term on January 1st, 2014, and was re-elected two years later. His current term lasts until 2020. Meantime, Hertzler has been politically vocal, speaking out against hydrofracking and underground natural gas storage locally, as well as weighing in on national politics.
Hertzler announced he’d run for Tom Reed’s seat on Thursday night at Cornell University’s Statler Hotel, he said on Friday night. “I disagree with everything Reed supports, including his unrelenting support of the Trumpster,” he added.
Reed was an early supporter of President Trump’s candidacy, and was tapped for Trump’s transition team. He has defeated three challengers in a row to serve New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which covers Ithaca and a western swath of the Southern Tier.
Hertzler says he’ll run not just as himself, but “in the persona of Mark Twain,” and present his ideas “through the brilliant humorist for all ages.” Twain, born Samuel Clemens, spent much of his life in Elmira, about an hour south of Trumansburg and the Ithaca area. He says his plan is also a tribute to Hal Holbrook, who has portrayed Mark Twain for over 60 years, including at the Clemens Center in Elmira a few years ago. He won a Tony award for his portrayal of Twain fifty years ago, and is said to have portrayed Twain longer than Clemens himself did.
“To my knowledge, it’s never been done before,” Hertzler said of his plan to run both as himself and as Twain, a persona Clemens created and nurtured over the course of his life. “I look forward to the challenge.”