Josh Glasstetter ’01, the first undergraduate Cornell student to be elected to Ithaca’s Common Council, resigned from his position last week in an unexpected move, after only two years in office.
Glasstetter cited a family member’s ill health as well as his desire to set a precedent for two-year de facto terms as reasons for his Sept. 12 resignation.
A government major, Glasstetter ran for his seat in the fourth ward in November 1999. The fourth ward jurisdiction covers Collegetown and West Campus.
“Setting the precedent of being a student on [Common] council is my biggest accomplishment,” he said.
Aside from personal reasons, Glasstetter resigned in hopes of encouraging students to serve on the Common Council for two-year de facto terms. Common Council representatives currently serve four-year terms.
“If students are going to be a regular feature, a regular presence in government, they should create two-year terms since it will be more practical with the schedules of students,” Glasstetter said.
There are problems with this idea that Glasstetter acknowledged.
“[People] probably won’t support it because the other wards like the idea of continuity. There won’t be exemptions for special cases,” he said.
“I don’t think that would really work,” Susan Blumenthal ’78 (D-3rd) agreed. “It takes a while to get up to speed on things and once you get it, it’s time for a new election. There would be a lot of transition.”
Before the November election where constituents will vote on a replacement for Glasstetter, some people believe that the interests of the fourth ward will still be represented.
“We’ll still be represented well,” said Alexandra Sanchez ’03, president of the Cornell Democrats, referring to Glasstetter’s departure. “There [still] is a good mix of students and permanent residents [in the fourth ward].”
Glasstetter said he felt that being a student on Common Council brought many challenges.
“It puts pressure on a student because unlike being on an extra-curricular activity, you have to conduct yourself differently,” Glasstetter said. “Meetings at 10 or 11 [p.m.] are common, but difficult to make. I did have some problems with being with the [Common] council, … with my own personal conflicts and activities — balancing it all.”
Other Common Council members noticed the problems Glasstetter had with meetings.
“There is a tremendous lot of work we’re involved in and he was absent enough that it was noticeable,” Blumenthal said. “It is a very active body. There are expectations about commitment.”
Even with managing a busy schedule, Glasstetter learned a lot through the Common Council.
“By being around I could insert new thoughts, ideas they never thought of before. It was good to see things from other people’s perspectives and bringing that back to the students,” Glasstetter said.
Blumenthal also commented on Glasstetter’s contribution to the council.
“When Josh was able to be there, he made contributions to conversations. We all appreciated the fact that he was a student. We valued the opinions of a student,” she said.
Glasstetter was highly involved with development in Collegetown. He focused on student concerns with parking, housing and bus shuttles.
Glasstetter wanted to make the bus shuttle from downtown Ithaca to the Cornell campus more accessible to students.
He also wanted to make housing in Collegetown more competitive.
“The rent is exorbitant and the quality of the housing and everything else is extremely poor when you take into account how much money [the landlords] get,” Glasstetter said. “Making landlords compete by lowering their prices, people would be more concentrated in Collegetown and won’t need a car as much. They will be less inclined, less able to bring a car since they will be closer to campus.”
The Cornell Democrats are now considering a candidate to endorse to succeed Glasstetter. Sanchez said the organization hasn’t divulged the candidate’s name yet.
“It’s true; we’re looking at somebody right now,” Sanchez said.
Archived article by Kelly Samuels