October 30, 2003

Spitzer Offers Peterson Nod

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Carolyn Peterson (D-4th Ward), gained key political support yesterday in her bid to become Ithaca’s next mayor from New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer at a press conference held in the Women’s Community Building on West Seneca St.

Spitzer provided glowing endorsement for Peterson, who handily won the Democratic nomination last month with 48.6 percent of votes cast. Republican nominee Lt. John Beau Saul ’97, who is a registered Democrat, also ran for the Democratic nomination and received 22.1 percent support.

“When you think about who you want to have as a mayor, when you think about what the talents are, the qualities — you want somebody who’s creative, smart, direct [and] tough — Carolyn is that person,” Spitzer said.

“She is going to not only win, hands down, but then take the city of Ithaca onto new heights. It’s going to be wonderful to see, and it’s going to be wonderful to have her as a partner in government,” Spitzer added.

From waste removal to education, mayors are given crucial tasks and responsibilities from state officials and are expected to complete these tasks with often impecunious budgets. Particularly in larger cities, mayors are sometimes the only line of defense in maintaining the subtle balance between stability and anarchy that citizens rely upon.

“Mayors are really where the rubber meets the road. Mayors have to make those tough decisions between taxes and services — and how do you provide those services we need?” Spitzer said.

Peterson noted that the next mayor of Ithaca will face a series of challenges. The Attorney General’s office has examined the problem of city buses running idle in New York suburbs and Peterson said that this is indeed a problem in Ithaca — development in downtown Ithaca needs to be inspected to combat this quandary, she said.

Lush rolling hills and sparkling bodies of water have come to characterize Ithaca for residents and tourists and maintaining the purity of air and water in Ithaca will be another issue of concern, Peterson said.

“[Natural beauty] is something that Ithaca thrives on, something we’re known for,” Peterson said.

The city has already received support from the state government in this realm. “When you look around the city you see assistance from New York in cleaning up a number of our toxic areas,” Peterson said.

Exploitation of immigrant labor has recently been an issue in the Ithaca community, as workers at College Town Pizza have complained of working below the minimum wage and being forced to work excessive hours per week. In addition to addressing the problems associated with immigrant labor, Peterson hopes to continue living wage discussions with city workers.

“That’s something that is absolutely key for our working people in the city of Ithaca — that people are treated correctly, paid correctly, and are able to make good wages,” Peterson said.

Peterson has received major support from labor in Ithaca and its surrounding areas. She has received endorsements from the United Autoworkers Local 2300, the Working Families Party and the Midstate Central Labor Council.

“She’s very strong on labor — that’s essential for a good mayor,” Brian Goodell, president of UAW Local 2300 said.

Bipartisan support has thus far been a crucial aspect to Peterson’s mayoral aspirations. She claims to have backing from a range of constituencies within the Democratic and Republican parties. Peterson pointed out that Spitzer’s political and professional “approach of bipartisanship” is closely aligned with her own philosophy and that his support as a well respected political figure can be nothing but a boon to her campaign.

Irene Stein, chair of the Tompkins County Democratic Committee, called Spitzer’s endorsement of Peterson a “great honor.”

On Nov. 4, Peterson and her supporters will await the results of the mayoral election at the Plumbers-Steamfitters Local 267 union hall at 701 West State Street.

Once the votes are tallied, Peterson will, “be moving on to the Lost Dog Restaurant for a victory party,” Stein said.

Archived article by Clark Merrefield

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