Democratic mayoral candidate Carolyn Peterson spoke to Cornell’s Interfraternity Council yesterday.
Although the council also invited Republican candidate Lt. John Beau Saul ’97 and Green Party candidate Paul Glover in addition to Peterson, neither attended the meeting. Saul was unable to attend due to severe illness, and the council was unable to contact Glover.
Peterson spoke about her stance on issues affecting both Cornell students and the general Ithaca area. She has been the alderperson in Ithaca’s fourth and fifth wards, those with the largest student populations, for 10 years. According to Peterson, her experience with the Cornell community places her in a unique position among the candidates.
Indeed, Peterson placed “town-gown” relations among her primary concerns as a candidate.
“There will be a minimum of two Cornell students on the city council, so relations will be important,” Peterson said.
Beyond this, there is good reason for her concern with student issues: their votes.
A Cornell voter registration drive run over the past week has led to approximately 700 students signing up to register to vote.
“This is an example of Cornell students showing their power,” said Michael Taylor, IFC vice president for University and community relations.
Peterson seemed optimistic about the potential for stronger community and University relations. She recalled the history of community service among members of the Cornell community and the University’s administration, which has led to improved relations. However, not all students share her optimism that such problems between the greater Ithaca community and the University can be reconciled.
One student cited the recent conflict between the two groups over creating a new parking lot on West Campus. “It does not seem that reconciliation is possible: right now students have to park twenty minutes away from campus and without cars they would not be able to go shopping for food,” said Patrick Dowell ’04. He continued, saying that the community had its own objections to the parking lot that make just as much sense, which leaves the two groups at an impasse.
Peterson also spoke about her desire to change Ithaca’s economic direction from the direction of recent years. “In recent years a lot of money has gone into ‘big box’ stores in the [Rt. 13 area]. My administration will put more emphasis into sustaining downtown, as well as improving Ithaca’s general infrastructure,” Peterson said. She emphasized, however, that Ithaca’s mayoral position is a “weak one” that serves to help direct a strong community council.
Peterson also spoke about her commitment to preserving Ithaca’s natural environment as well as its historical districts.
Archived article by Matthew Vernon