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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 21, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Svante Myrick prevails in primary election

Svante Myrick, Ithaca 4th Ward representative and 2009 Cornell University graduate, won the democratic mayoral primary election for the City of Ithaca on Tuesday.

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Svante Myrick, Ithaca 4th Ward representative and 2009 Cornell University graduate, celebrates his victory in the primary Tuesday at Delilah’s. Rachel Orlow/The Ithacan

Myrick won the primary with 45.9 percent of the votes, beating Pam Mackesey, a member of the Tompkins County legislature who had 37.1 percent, and J.R. Clairborne, 2nd Ward city council representative who had 16.6 percent, according to the Tompkins County Board of Elections.

Of 5,624 active registered democratic voters in the City of Ithaca, 1,867 came out to vote in the primary election, according to election board data.

Stephen DeWitt, Democratic commissioner of elections, said this year the turnout was high compared to what it has been in previous years.

“For a primary this is fairly consistent,” he said. “It might have even been just a little more than a normal turnout.”

Myrick was the youngest alderman in the city council at 19 years old in 2008. Now 24, he has secured the primary and will continue to campaign for the general election, which will be held Nov. 8.

“Tomorrow I’ll wake up at 6 a.m.,” Myrick said minutes after the results came in. “I’m on the radio at 7 and then I’ll be back at the office at 8 and we’re back out talking to people, trying to reach voters — see what their concerns are and explain what we’re about.”

Mackesey and Clairborne could not be reached for comment.

Myrick said he will stick to his original platform for the upcoming general election.

“We’re going to be focused on our commitment to bettering the community and keeping the promises I made at the beginning of my campaign,” he said.

Junior Rob Flaherty, Myrick’s campaign communications manager, said he and Myrick will retool the campaign to get on track for the upcoming mayoral election.

“We are not just focusing on Democrats anymore,” he said. “The message is still the same. It’s about bringing Ithaca forward, getting Ithaca ready for what comes next and creating a brighter, better Ithaca in so many ways.”

Flaherty said the campaign used social media to spread the word, but also relied heavily on personal connections with the community.

“A lot of it is literally going to the voters, going to their door,” he said.

Former Ithaca Sheriff Peter Meskill said Myrick is exactly what the city needs — a young and intelligent mayor who is willing to listen and reach out.

“They ran a great campaign, they had a lot of help, they did things just the way they should,” he said. “They stayed on subject and they had a lot of energy.”

Some of the prominent issues in the mayoral race include economic development, entrepreneurship, crime and violence in downtown Ithaca and sustainability.

As mayor, Myrick said he plans to address hydraulic fracturing, the controversial practice of drilling for natural gas, by advocating for its ban within city limits. He said he will look at creative ways to deal with fracking, like working with the Finger Lakes Land Trust to buy land along the watershed to prevent drilling companies from using the space.

Dryden resident Amber Gilweski said she supported Myrick’s stance on fracking.

“It’s important that he cares about the city’s environmental issues as well as political ones,” she said. “The environment is important, and he gets that the issues surrounding it shouldn’t be forgotten in the campaign.”

Myrick said he will also focus on several initiatives to invigorate the city’s economic growth. He said he intends to maintain the city’s reputation as a pedestrian- and bike-friendly community.

He also said he will urge Ithaca College and Cornell University to increase their contributions to the tax base by encouraging them to contribute 25 percent of assessed property taxes. This would add $10 million to the tax roll, which would help eliminate the city’s budget deficit, he said.

Myrick said he also plans to give attention to smaller details in the city. For example, he plans to advocate for “smart meters,” which use credit cards and allow the meter time to run for as long as the driver needs as opposed to the current meters, which require coins.

Jim Dennis, a member of the Tompkins County Legislature, said he didn’t vote for Myrick because he lives in Ulysses, N.Y., but supported his campaign.

“He has the energy, the knowledge and the ability to lead the City of Ithaca,” he said. “We need someone to lead it in a new direction.”

During his tenure as a city council member, Myrick helped pass outdoor smoking regulations and created a proposal with specific design guidelines for Collegetown to prevent space and parking issues.

Ithaca resident Chibo Shinagawa said she supported Myrick because he addressed the issue of diversity in the community and kept a focus on youth in his campaign messages.

“I haven’t heard any other candidate talk about inclusion in the community, or talk with such passion about the City of Ithaca,” she said.