Democrat Laura Lewis elected Ithaca mayor, will serve one-year term

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Laura Lewis will finish the remainder of Svante Myrick's vacated term after winning Tuesday's election. (Megan Zerez/WSKG)

 

Ithaca’s acting mayor, Laura Lewis, a Democrat, won Tuesday’s election by a wide margin. She will serve out the final year of former Mayor Svante Myrick’s four-year term.

Lewis won 65% of the vote. 

Sims, who had the backing of the Working Families Party and the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America, captured 25% of the vote; Winn took 8%.

While the acting mayor received more than $6,800 in donations, Lewis did little campaigning compared to her challengers, Progressive candidate Katie Sims and Republican Zach Winn. Sims raised more than $6,900; Winn received more than $700.

Lewis was appointed acting mayor in February 2022 when Myrick resigned to head People for the American Way, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C.

Lewis will have to continue to grapple with a number of challenges, some of which she inherited when she was appointed. They include implementing Ithaca’s landmark police reform and climate action policies, which some critics say have stalled in recent months.

The city, as an employer, is also facing significant labor challenges, including the possibility of a strike. Last week, scores of city employees packed a Common Council meeting, derailing a vote on the city’s budget. Some blamed Lewis for what they said are understaffing issues and wage stagnation.

Voters in the City of Ithaca also overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that would shift most of the administrative roles of the mayor onto a city manager.

Ithaca aims to hire the new city manager by 2024. Once the city manager takes the reins, the mayor would then get a vote on Ithaca’s Common Council.

That means if Lewis seeks re-election after her one-year term as mayor, it could be for a very different role within city government.