Ithaca Mayoral Candidate - Svante Myrick
WSKG IS OFFERING EXTENDED INTERVIEWS WITH THE TWO CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR OF THE CITY OF ITHACA THROUGHOUT THE WEEK BEFORE ELECTION DAY.
CELIA CLARKE: "Svante Myrick is in his second term as mayor of Ithaca. You're running for a third term. What is your top priority if you're re-elected?"
SVANTE MYRICK: "Oh, thank you. And thank you for having me. My, my top priorities, it's actually threefold. Number one is lowering the cost of living here in Ithaca. The rents are too high. The taxes are too high."
"So bring that down through a combination of more affordable housing, and restraining are spending while bringing in more revenue sources. That's my top priority."
"Second priority is delivering a Green New Deal for the City of Ithaca. Reducing our emissions to net neutral by 2030 while addressing the historic inequities that have really hurt the opportunities for people of color, indigenous folks and women in our city."
"And then the third priority is building more human-scale infrastructure. Things like sidewalks and bike lanes and walking trails. We've had great success that we can be proud of building big time infrastructure, like our water treatment plant, which will deliver fresh water for the next hundred years and rebuilding The Commons. But we need to do more in neighborhoods to make the neighborhoods a safer place to live and have a higher quality of life."
"So those three things more affordable housing, a Green New Deal and human-scale infrastructure is what I would focus like a laser on in my next term."
CC: "And your opponent says that too many people have been pushed out of the city because of the cost of living, that there's not enough housing, affordable housing for people who are working minimum wage. And so I wonder how you respond to that criticism? And do you agree with him that there isn't enough affordable housing for people earning low wages?"
SM: "I do agree. I mean, I've built my whole, the whole reason I got into public service is because I recognize that our system here in the United States and our system here in Ithaca doesn't do enough to help people afford housing."
"You know, the reason I ran is because of my childhood living in a homeless shelter, living with my mother who worked to minimum wage jobs to try to make ends meet."
"And, you know, if my opponent had ever been to a City Council meeting, he'd see that we have done more in the last eight years to build affordable housing than in any eight-year period and the city of it because history. We've built and approved more projects. And we've become to, that that work has begun to undo a 35-year long trend of gentrification in our community."
"So it's working, but we need somebody at the helm who not only understands how important it is, but knows how to get it done. And can work with the state and federal level to win the grants that we need to build more subsidized housing and can manage the 500 employees in a very complicated system that is the city of Ithaca to deliver on the promises that are made on the campaign trail."
CC: "There's been some really strong pushback recently that the budget for the first year of the Green New Deal, the 2020 budget, is too small. So, would you explain exactly what's in the budget for the Green New Deal? And why there isn't Why you didn't put more in for the first year?"
SM: "Yeah. Sure. Sure. Well, what we did was we've more than tripled the amount of money that we're going to spend on a Green New Deal."
"So this year, we're spending about $50,000 on a sustainability coordinator. Next year, we want to hire another full-time person plus, spend $100,000 on contracts and apply for up to $200,000 in grants that would let us hire more staff and get the ball rolling. So to go from 200,000, or forgive me, to go from $50,000 to $250,000 in spending in a single year is quite a leap and commitment."
"But I think folks in recognizing that climate changes is a crisis, that we're already too late, that we need to move even faster. And so their urgency is, is aimed at the City Council. And, you know, I get it. But the truth is that, you know, spending more and spending more quickly, is only going to impact and hurt the people in our community who can least afford it. And that is taxpayers, people renting own homes and the city."
So, what we need to do is find a way to fund our efforts that pulls in more money from the state and federal government, from progressive property taxes that that tax corporations, millionaires, billionaires, instead of just relying on the city that because property taxes, I think that's what we need to do to build a Green Deal that's actually equitable. And I think we can do that.
"I mean, I think we need to walk our talk, and that's why I propose $250,000 worth of funding. But I think we need to hold the people who, who can actually unleash a huge amount of resources -- our Congressman Tom Reed, for example, who's seemingly bought and paid for by the oil industry, and our state senate, state senator Tom O'Mara, who's not stood up and said that climate change is an urgent issue. So I think that's where we need to focus our efforts. If we're going to get the resources we need to actually deliver a Green New Deal."