Ithaca Mayoral Candidate Interview – Adam Levine

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WSKG IS OFFERING EXTENDED INTERVIEWS WITH THE CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR OF THE CITY OF ITHACA THE WEEK BEFORE ELECTION DAY.

Ithaca residents have two choices for mayor this election. Adam Levine is running against two-term incumbent Svante Myrick. Levine has lived in Ithaca for almost 20 years. 

[Transcript]

CELIA CLARKE: Let’s jump into this. Why does (Ithaca) need a new mayor?

AL:  “Well, I think that new things can can be good. But also, I feel like I would like to take us to the next best place.  In a direction that’s a little different than a lot of the country goes. Which is we’ve been run for close to 40 years on trickle down economics, which was mass injected into the country, when the Reagan administration came to town, once upon a time now now a long time ago, and it’s not been a good thing overall for the country.”

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

Adam Levine is a candidate for Mayor of the City of Ithaca. In WSKG Ithaca studio, October 29, 2019. (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

“There have been bubbles of slight success and where it helps some people but overall wages have been flat, except for super wealthy people, and their wealth has gone up. And I feel like I would like to help build a good economy from the ground up. A ground up economy as I’m calling it. And change the direction, instead of so much relying on wealthy developers and, and big, big time landlords to bring in well-off people as it happened in the last couple of building projects. And some development is crucial. I believe that. But, I would like to create an economy where people who work here can afford to live here.”

“Too many people have been chased out. I feel like we’re heading in a direction with where Ithaca will be a nice shiny well-run city for families making $200,000 a year or more. And that’s not acceptable. It’s not okay.”

“Many people have already been a friend of mine said, what are we going to do about the people who have already been chased out here because they can’t afford to live here.”

CC: And what do you want to do about that?

AL: “Well, we want to make them more affordable housing.”

“We want to we want to bring, bring, you know, keep the rents and you know, the New York State Government has been a I started talking about rent protection. And the New York State Government has been enacting laws moving in that direction anyway, so it’s coming, you know. But I also want to bring in good jobs, where people can make a real wage, maybe even have retirement hopes and dreams, instead of working 60 and 70 hours a week, just to survive, which is living to work, which is not a good enough life.”

“So we have to bring in a better jobs that will create a better economy for people. And not, not just hang on by fingernails kind of jobs or jobs in the service industry. A lot of service industry workers in Ithaca, I believe in the, in the town, there’s 148 restaurants. And so in the city that has to be close to 100 or over 100. And so that’s if there’s just 10 service industry workers in every place that’s over a thousand people who come on a regular basis to work the jobs in Ithaca and most of those people can’t afford to live here anymore. So that’s that’s  just not acceptable, we can do better.”

CC: Where’s the money for that? How does that work? As you’re developing new things? How, how, how will you be able to do that without increasing property taxes?

AL: “Well, this is a big? That’s a good question. So, we want to, you will have to look at the budget and as a press, as a media, you’ll be welcome to look at it with us. It’s that we will be transparent, and we will, will try to get there there is a budget. There is a substantial amount of money in the budget, but it’s not endless.”

“One of the things when I was talking, I’m talking about people who live here can’t afford to rent here. A lot of property owner said, “Hey, but we can’t afford our property taxes. What will we do?” I mean, I don’t want to put any more.”

“First of all, when I talk I talked about rent protection. I’m talking about on the super big landlords only. If you have a couple of few hundred apartments to rent, or dwellings to rent or 100 then you can you’re doing okay. And to someone, to those who much is given, much expected. But if you just have one or two extra spots to read, I’m not really looking to put, I want to make the pressure less on you.”

“So we have to find creative ways to bring money in to try to lower property taxes or find ways to partner with small business owners and small landlords to take the pressure off of them in some connection to also helping people who are trying to live here and rent here or so your mortgage and the rents are too damn high, as someone once said, when they ran for governor, right? And that’s, that’s true.”

“So and if we can have a better economy, with good working class jobs, where people are really making a living, then that’s going to help the tax base that that’s going to help you know, it’ll, it’ll also help those people be more of a decision, part of the decision making people in Ithaca instead of fear feeling powerless.”

“When I try to, I try to bring people into the decision. A lot of times, people are afraid of being in the discussion many people because they’re afraid or if I try to empower workers, I could be in trouble with my boss at my job. Oh, it doesn’t really matter. What can you do I feel hopeless to be — that, that’s, I want to do away with the feeling of hopelessness, and create empowerment for working people, for small homeowners, for small business owners who, they understand that it’s not great to underpay someone, very often, you know, but they don’t know how else that they can survive and thrive.”

“So we have to work together. I want to also relieve pressure on the small business owner and the small homeowner. But at the same time, it has to be done, all the pressure can’t go downhill all the time. We can’t spiral the pressure down on the backs of people. Again, who’re working 60, 70 hours a week, and are living to work. How much more pressure? It’s not okay, we’re becoming a third world country.”