Lt. John Beau Saul ’97, an officer in the Ithaca Police Department, is one of three Democrats running for mayor in the primary on Tuesday. The two other candidates are Eric Lerner Ph.D. ’75 and Carolyn Peterson (D-4th Ward). Saul plans to improve the city’s relationship with Cornell and Ithaca College, change the budget allocation process and alter the bureaucracy culture in the Ithaca government.
Given Saul’s many ties to Ithaca as a native Ithacan, a police officer for 20 years and a former Cornell student, he believes he can bring a unique perspective to town-gown relations.
“This presents a unique time,” Saul said. “Cornell has a new administration. The city will have a new administration. What better time to start the relationship anew?”
Saul said Ithaca is often not a constructive partner with either Cornell or Ithaca College.
“I’ve negotiated collective bargaining agreements as a union leader, and what I’ve learned works is total honesty and creating a win-win situation,” he said. “There is a large benefit for Cornell to have Ithaca become vibrant and safe. When you sit down with someone who wants to keep you vibrant and safe, that’s an ally. The city tends to look at Cornell as an adversary.”
Saul says that although the city should have a friendlier relationship with its nonprofit partners in the area, he feels that the partners must also be included in discussions of how they can contribute to Ithaca’s improvement.
One of the most imminent problems that Saul sees is the state of the budget.
“I view the primary function of the next mayor’s job [as finding] ways to increase revenues,” Saul said. “For several years, we’ve looked to large footprint development as our economic savior. … I think there are ways to encourage development without having us look like everyplace else.”
Saul proposes that the best way to solve the city’s budget woes is to completely overhaul the allocation process. He suggests that a better alternative would be considering next year’s budget at the beginning of the year rather than the end, which is current procedure.
“The first thing I would do is talk to our friends and neighbors and find out what they want,” he said. “You don’t wait until an eleventh-hour meeting to have friends and neighbors plead to have a cut restored. That’s not a dialogue.”
Saul also said he wants to change the culture of the city’s bureaucracy.
“Personnel should be included on day one; they know what does and doesn’t work,” he said. “Department heads need to know not only their budgets but the budgets of every other department as well.”
Saul hopes to create a team mentality among the departments instead of having independent allocations of funds, which he believes create a “winner-loser” mentality.
“I’m not na