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Ithaca Mayoral Race Approaches with a New Face

Levine is building a campaign focused on bringing in as many people into the decision making process. (Photo by Sam Haut)

City of Ithaca residents will have a chance to vote in November for several local positions: judges, an alderperson and mayor. While some of those positions are unchallenged, the mayor’s race became contested in May, with the current mayor, Svante Myrick, being challenged by Ithaca resident Adam Levine.

Meet the Candidates

Myrick was elected in 2011 at the age of 24, the city’s youngest and first African-American mayor. He represented Ithaca’s 4th Ward on the Common Council before being elected mayor and received endorsements from Common Council members and Budget Committee Chairs while running in 2011.
During his tenure, Myrick has implemented policies that many in the town applaud and also several that have faced criticism. According to the mayor’s office, Myrick dropped Ithaca’s property tax rate by 6.6 percent in 2017 from the 2012 tax rate and, according to the 2019 budget, the property tax has since dropped another 3.6%. Myrick recently released his tax proposal for 2020, in which the property tax levy would increase 2.9%, and the property tax rate would increase 1%, from $11.60 per $1,000 in assessed value in 2019 to $11.71 per $1,000.
The mayor’s office also lists the various developments completed and being built downtown, like the Commons overhaul and the Hilton Canopy, as worthy accomplishments. Levine, however, said some of the development is problematic. 
Levine said he sees the new hotels popping up around town as being built to support a richer class of people that will not reinvest into the local Ithaca economy.
“There is some affordable housing that is built, but a lot of buildings going up are these huge buildings, and they’re for high-priced people,” Levine said. “Bringing some development in is important, but I don’t want to have a base of trickle-down economics; I want to help build a ground up economy.”
Though Levine has had less experience as a politician than Myrick, he has done some advocacy over the years, demanding a living wage both in 2012 and 2018. Levine has been living in Ithaca since 2002 and said he feels he could do more as mayor to help Ithaca residence with lower rent and utility costs, among other progressive policies.

How Levine’s Campaign has Fared

Levine announced his intent to run on May 15, and though he only got 250 of the 339 signatures required to appear on the ballot, Myrick said via Twitter that he would not challenge Levine’s petition. Even though Levine failed to gain enough signatures, Myrick would have to challenge the petition in order to keep him off the ballot. 
While Levine said he “absolutely has a chance to win,” Ithaca College associate professor Donald Beachler is less sure. He said Levine is both too unknown and started too late for him to have a high chance at winning in November.
Levine said he has only recently started ramping up his campaign, taking off from work until election day in order to commit to the campaign full-time. While he has hosted a few fundraising events, Levine says the turnout has been moderate.
Levine, pictured off to the right, at a fundraiser on Sept. 29, with the Facebook event listing 12 people as attendees. (Photo by Mark H. Anbinder, 14850 Magazine)
Though Levine mentioned wanting to address problems like a sidewalk on South Hill, Beachler said he believes candidates running for positions in Ithaca tend to promise change for issues they do not have control over.
“One thing that you often have in Ithaca politics, you have local politicians who campaign on issues that are more appropriate for the president, or the U.S. Senate or the governor,” Beachler said. “The real issues of a mayor are local taxes, the police, the streets. The nitty gritty of a mayor is not a glamorous job.”
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    Patricia ElaineOct 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    I lived in Ithaca for 4 YEARS. I briefly worked at Cornell for a short time before needing to have TKR. No fun. COMPLICATED. Renting housing was insufferable having a dependent child in middle school. If you don’t Gross a minimum of 5k per month, you’re poor & low income. The retirees or Medical, or Educated Tenured, AGRICULTURE CO-OP OWNERS, Professionals & Contractors, Restaurant owners run the REAL ESTATE MRKET. Working families do just that. Their children are left to themselves to raise, Boscies & TC3 are the last resort for kids with (lack of parental school support) because of working parents. The youth alcohol & drug use is at an all time HIGH. OUTBREAKS of Super VD Gonnereiah, Herpes, & Syphilis are rampart. Mono is regarded silently as a common cold. While whooping cough is as common among the youth moms babies as the elderly. Your concerns are expressed about the inequality of development, yet your community is becoming more impoverished EACH year because the needs of the PEOPLE who make the community are IGNORED. I just named a few. State EXAMS BIND KIDS FROM GRADUATING. WHO THEN DROP OUT OF SCHOOL OR LEAVE THE CITY, BECAUSE FAMILY FARMS AREN’T THEIR FUTURES. Every boy doesn’t want to be a SCAM MECHANIC THE WAY AN UNCLE, DAD, OR COUSIN IS TO MAKE MONEY. CARS HAVE CHANGED. So unless the PASS the State End of year Exam, they run off or become Fast Food, Grocery Store associates, which keeps them finally locked down with 2 or 3 PT jobs. Or selling DRUGS/STEALING. WHICH MAYOR CAN FIX THESE PROBLEMS¿?

  • U

    Unspoken IthacaOct 20, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    Taxes down, yet assessments are through the roof. The mayor has sold out to developers and unaffordable housing. Levine isn’t the answer, but neither is Svante Soros.

  • C

    CarolOct 19, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Although I may not agree with everything happening with our great city I do believe if a someone wants to be a mayoral candidate he/she should follow the rules from the beginning. Mr. Levine has not done that by not obtaining the required number of signatures. This shows me his commitment is just not there. Being the mayor of Ithaca requires total commitment to the job.