Tompkins County DA retires: 'It's the last thing I wanted to do'


ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson is retiring early from her position due to a health reason, an official confirmed Thursday morning.

Wilkinson, who became the district attorney in 2005, has had ongoing health issues. She took several weeks off from her post in late February until around April of this year.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bonavia confirmed Thursday morning that her last day is July 8.

According to WENY News, Governor Andrew Cuomo will appoint an interim District Attorney.

Doctors began telling Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson in January that she should lighten her schedule and consider cutting back on her hours due to an illness.

"They started saying, 'You really have to lighten your schedule. You really have to start taking it easy,'" Wilkinson said. "I just didn't want to quit."

Wilkinson was elected DA in 2005 and reelected unopposed in 2009 and 2013.

"It's a crazy job and I dearly love it and would give a lot not not have to do this now," she said.

She said the position is a 24-hour a day, seven-day a week position. Wilkinson has been called in the middle of the night to major crime scenes and been at SWAT standoffs at 2 a.m. She once left town for vacation and, when a major crime happened, had to drive right back to Tompkins County. But she said she loved being a part of those unpredictable things.

The workload combined with her illness, though, eventually began to be too much for her.

"It's the last thing I wanted to do. I had a really hard time making the decision," she said.

Staying in the position would be unfair to her staff, the people who elected her and her wife, she said.

In a news release, Wilkinson said she hopes that after a "period of recovery" she will be able to continue working on committees within the city and county.