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Election Preview: Ithaca's First Ward

Incumbent Alderperson Cynthia Brock, Anthony Hayton, and James Lukasavage debate at the Southside Community Center.

Drugs, economic development, and housing were just some of the issues discussed at a debate between the three candidates competing for Ithaca Common Council’s First Ward.

Incumbent Alderperson Cynthia Brock is running for re-election on the Democratic and Working Families line. Her challengers are Anthony Hayton, of the Operation West Hill line, and James Lukasavage, of the Ithaca New Cynics line.

The three candidates met Friday night at the Southside Community Center for a debate hosted by the Tompkins County League of Women Voters. The First Ward stretches from South Hill to West Hill.

What is the Common Council and who are Alderpersons?

The city of Ithaca’s legislative power is in the Common Council, which has “power to enact and enforce any ordinance or resolution not in conflict with the Constitution or laws of this state for any local purpose.”
The Common Council manages the finances and property of the city.

The city is broken up into five wards and there are two elected representatives for each ward.
Common Council members are known as Alderpersons. They serve four year terms and receive an annual salary of $9,641.

Who are the First Ward candidates?

Brock has represented the First Ward since 2012. This is Hayton’s first run for public office and Lukasavage’s second, after a failed 2015 bid for the First Ward against George McGonigal.

Prior to her Common Council election, Brock served on the city’s Board of Public Works and on the Greater Ithaca Activities Center board. She is a 16-year resident of Ithaca’s West Hill neighborhood. Currently, she also serves on the Tompkins County Water Resources Council and chairs the managing board of the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Facility.

Hayton is originally from Brooklyn and an ex-Marine. He is also a West Hill resident and has focused his campaign on bringing to light problems he sees in that area. Hayton is also a volunteer firefighter.

Lukasavage is a 30-year resident of the city. He described himself as an environmentalist and said he is running to shift political power to local and family control. Lukasavage is known for wearing a gas-mask to avoid pollution but said he has stopped because the mask caused adverse health effects.

This is what voters in the First Ward will see on Election Day.

Most important issues for each candidate:

Brock: Figuring out how to manage growth. She said the city is growing and that it is important to manage this growth in a way that doesn’t negatively affect residents.

Hayton: “Plain and simple: drugs.” He said he sees college students and professionals come into his West Village neighborhood everyday to buy drugs.

Lukasavage: Overpopulation and pollution. He proposed a moratorium on development and a cap on enrollment at both Ithaca College and Cornell University to limit population growth.

Ithaca College student housing on South Hill and interactions with residents:

Brock: Ithaca College Campus Safety officers should have authority to patrol on South Hill. Currently, they have no jurisdiction off campus.

Hayton: Compared the increasing area of student housing to a “virus.” He said if students aren’t limited in where they can live, they will just keep spreading.

Lukasavage: Again suggested a cap on enrollment to make Ithaca College “more prestigious.”

Dealing with the drug problem:

Brock: Anyone with drug problems should have immediate access to the services they need.

Hayton: First, he said education in schools is needed. Second, a zero tolerance policy for drug related crimes. And third, a full crackdown on drug sales in the city.

Lukasavage: Families are the best solution to the drug problem because they know how to discourage drug use.

Voting yes or no on Constitutional Convention?

Every 20 years,  New York State residents get to decide whether or not to amend the state constitution. Voters will see that question this Election Day. If the majority of New Yorkers vote yes, delegates will then be elected on Election Day in 2018 and a convention will be held in Albany.

Brock: No

Hayton: No

Lukasavage: No

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