Mayoral candidate Paul Glover stands out from the rest, and not only because he spent six and a half months of 1978 walking from Boston to San Diego. He is the only candidate who is also running for president of the United States.
“Mayor’s this year. President’s next year. If I’m elected mayor I will cease the presidential campaign. I was one of about 40 people invited by the Green Party to engage in the primary, and I did so not expecting to be the eventual candidate, but to contribute my views on Green campaign themes,” Glover said in a recent Tuesday morning interview outside of Collegetown Bagels.
He decided to run for mayor after the local Green Party interviewed all of the Democratic candidates.
“None of us had heard enough of a distinction between the candidates on Big Box retail expansion and restraint of highways. They’re giving lipservice to bike lanes and all the nice things, while acquiescing to business as usual,” he said.
Glover’s name and face are already well-known in Ithaca. He is a common figure on the Commons with his green shorts and red beard. He calls himself a “freegan.”
“I don’t buy cheese or milk, but I’ll eat it if someone gives it to me for free,” he said.
Among other local achievements, Glover is the founder of Ithaca Hours, the city’s local currency, which he claims almost doubles the minimum wage by making one hour of work worth $10.
“Since 1991, millions of dollars worth of Ithaca Hours have been traded by thousands. We made grants to 70 community groups. We’ve granted loans without charging interest. This monetary revolution can be brought to City Hall to enable us increasingly to purchase services with out raising taxes,” he said.
“My campaign’s prime theme is creating jobs on a small budget. Among the candidates I’m uniquely qualified to do this. I’ve been a community organizer for 35 years. I’m connected to thousands of local residents through initiatives such as Ithaca Hours and the Ithaca Health Fund and the Whole Ithaca Stock Exchange and a dozen other similar initiatives to make life here easier, friendlier and more fun,” he added.
The Ithaca Health Fund was Glover’s brain child in 1997 and is, along with Ithaca Hours, part of his belief that the answer to the city’s suffering economy is to “plug the cash leaks.”
“Millions of dollars leave our local economy every year to pay for fuel bills, autos, health insurance, absentee landlords, housewares and so forth. Each of these needs can be met through what I call a mutual enterprise system, which are community based businesses, dedicated to meeting basic needs in a cooperative manner. These plans can create an unprecedentedly beautiful city which is easy and healthy for all residents,” Glover said.
But, following Mayor Alan Cohen ’81 will be no easy feat. After eight years in office, Cohen lists among his achievements a major shift in the relations between Cornell and the Ithaca community at large. Glover was under-impressed by this accomplishment.
“The way he relaxed town-gown relations was by stepping hard on the students. The two main conflicts with Cornell were that students go wild and pee on lawns. I felt that unauthorized fertilization of lawns was not the worst thing that happened to our front yards or our flowers,” he said.
He mentioned monetary issues as being the second concern that Ithacans have about Cornell.
“I’d like to emphasize that I’m the pro-student candidate. I’ve lived on College Avenue and Cook Street for 11 years. We are the last townies on College Avenue, and we find the students to be noisy on schedule and quiet on schedule,” he added.
In his campaign literature, Glover has promised big changes in Ithaca, including a bulk food center, a food processing center, a free dental clinic, sanitation reform, bikeways, mosaic sidewalks and a dream-come-true job center.
While free dental clinics may seem enticing, some have wondered where the money for such projects will come from. Glover has an answer.
“Money conventionally comes from bond issues, taxes and fees, students and will continue to arrive from those places. But, because federal and state money have been taken away to fight a permanent war and fund a global oil empire, city budgets must be met either by raising taxes or by non-profitization of services. Now, that’s not privatization. It means devolving services when possible into non-profit organizations to be strictly controlled by the city paying livable wages. It means relying on new technologies for meeting our needs. That is reducing the amount of automobile dependence and traffic while creating transit alternatives. It even means printing our own money. My City Hall will rely more on creativity than on dollars. In the broader community City Hall should foster mutual aid systems and buying clubs to reduce costs of living,” he said.
Of course, Glover is the perfect candidate to argue for independence from automobiles, since he refuses to ride in them.
Whether or not a 56 year-old anti-automobile “freegan” in green shorts has a chance of becoming this city’s next mayor remains to be seen. But, there’s one thing for sure. If there is anywhere Glover has a chance, it’s here in Ithaca.
Archived article by Freda Ready