After representing the fourth district for 10 years in the Tompkins County Legislature, Nate Shinagawa ’05 announced on Sept. 16 his resignation and his residence switch, which would allow him to run for an open seat representing the second district.
Shinagawa, the Democratic candidate, faces independent opponent Anna Kelles to represent the Fall Creek community, where he has owned property since 2011 and moved to recently.
“I’ve wanted to move [to Fall Creek] for a long time,” he said. “I recently got married and decided that it would be a good time to move with my wife. My sister and my younger brothers have lived there for a number of years, and [the house] has been a home for my family.”
Shinagawa said he bought a Fall Creek house because his sister and her partner could not find an affordable place to live in Ithaca. Shinagawa also has two younger brothers, one of whom has special needs and the other who is in college, who live with him.
Shinagawa cited his current living condition as the foundation for one of his major issues that he is running on — sustainable community growth, not only for the community as a whole, but for Cornell students as well. Shinagawa acknowledged that students and residents alike have similar worries about living arrangements.
“I represented Collegetown for a number of years, and I believe what we need to do is build up housing stock in the town, not just for students, but for everyone,” he said. “If we build up the housing stock, that means that there are more options for housing, and with more options, there will be more competition and the quality of the housing will be better. As of now, landlords can get away with having housing that isn’t well kept and is poorly maintained. I am pushing towards changing these dynamics.”
One of his other priorities is keeping law enforcement accountable for their actions.
“I think that one of the big issues is law enforcement accountability,” he said. “Anyone who caresabout this issues, especially in the Black Lives Matter era, knows that it is important to have trust in law enforcement. I support having body cameras on enforcement, especially after the Hornbrook incident, which college students were very much aware of.”
From Dec. 30 to Jan. 2, police and SWAT teams were in a 61 hour standoff with a Danby resident living on Hornbrook Road. After the standoff ended, the resident, David Cady, had committed suicide, leaving residents questioning police tactics.
Shinagawa is also running on the platform of pushing a livable wage for workers and advocating civil rights for all, which he believes will help everyone in the community, including Cornell students. On Monday, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-NY) and leader of the living wave movement Carl Feuer both endorsed Shinagawa.
According to Shinagawa, Lifton’s endorsement signals that he has support of “long time, experienced leaders who have worked with [him] personally.”
“Lifton has spent much time working with legislators, and we have worked successfully together on opposing fracking and keeping the Lakeside Nursing Home open,” he said. “[The home] has over 250 seniors on Medicaid, which Governor [Cuomo] wanted to close.”
Shinagawa also said he believes that Feuer’s endorsement shows that his work on workers’ lives have been “incredibly beneficial” in providing “a much better quality of life.”
“People that we interact with, whether it’s employees, communities, etc., at Cornell and in the Ithaca community who are working under the living wage — which is Ithaca is around $14.60 an hour — are really struggling,” he said. “During my time as legislator, workers at the recycling center went from a $9 per hour wage to a $14 wage. They were barely getting by, yet these are the people who are picking up your recycling from your frat houses, your dorms, or your apartments.”
Cornell students will be vital during this election season, said Shinagawa, who encouraged students to be involved.
“In this election, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 people voting, so students will definitely have an impact,” he said. “Students should vote and be involved because they are part of the community as well. I had several [Cornell] volunteers this past weekend helping make calls. I think it is good for students to get off the Hill and talk about the issues that matter to them.”