November 5, 2003

Ithaca Elects Peterson First Female Mayor

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Democratic candidate Carolyn Peterson was chosen as Ithaca’s new mayor in yesterday’s election, winning 61.65 percent of the total vote. Peterson, who in January will be sworn in as the city’s first female mayor, carried every district in each of the city’s five wards to defeat Republican challenger Lt. Beau Saul ’97 and Green Party candidate Paul Glover.

Common Council

Also decided in last evening’s elections were two positions for the 4th ward Common Council, won by Michael Taylor ’05 and Gayraud Townsend ’05 in uncontested races. Taylor will serve a two-year term while Townsend will serve a four-year term. The 4th ward encompasses the majority of Collegetown and an area of West Campus.

The race for the 5th ward council seat was won by Democract Robin Holtham Kohrerr, who received 86.89 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Lindsey Plotnik ’05. The 5th ward encompasses, in part, North and West Campuses.

All four Democratic candidates were present to celebrate yesterday evening’s results at the Plumber’s and Pipefitter’s Union on W. State St.

‘What a Win!’

“What a win!” Peterson said, addressing an excited crowd of local residents and student supporters. “I am awed by the trust and responsibility this community has given me.”

In her victory speech, Peterson promised to tackle issues both large and small during her tenure as mayor, from severe budget problems to residents’ concerns regarding traffic. Following her speech, Peterson detailed her vision of continuing the relationship between Cornell and the Ithaca community.

“I represented the 4th ward for the last 2 years … and I’m also a member of the Collegetown Neighborhood Council,” Peterson said. “The relationship has been improving over the last few years, especially [with] activities that Cornell is providing, … really positive moves for cooperation with the city and students and Cornell University. Having two new students representing the ward is going to be a whole new direction, and I think it’s going to be very valuable.”

Townsend and Taylor shared in Peterson’s optimistic outlook, promising to continue to enhance the relationship between Ithaca and Cornell.

Immediate Impact

“There are issues that city government discusses which clearly have a very immediate impact [on] students’ lives at Cornell,” Taylor said. “The median age in Ithaca is 22 years old, so Gayraud and I really have an opportunity to be the young people’s voice.”

“I think it’s a great feat for students of Cornell that we have a voice on the Council for the next couple of years,” Townsend said.

Following the final tally of votes, Saul expressed both disappointment with the results as well as faith in Peterson’s ability as a community leader.

“It’s … not totally unpredicted [but] I think that we did good, we’re all a bunch of human service workers … [and] I think we did a really good job for the first time out,” Saul said from his campaign headquarters on East Seneca St. “The city will survive just fine with Carolyn at the helm. I look forward to working with [her], I’ve known her for years — she’s a good, honest person.”

Glover, while offering cautious assistance to Peterson, tempered his comments with a stern warning to the new mayor.

“Carolyn will be faced with hard choices immediately — to restrain taxes, maintain services, to serve environmentalists as well capitalists, to serve labor as well as big box stores,” Glover said. “I’ll be active [in assisting] her with grassroots economic devlopment, [but] if she seeks to install more chain stores in the city’s southwest 80 acres, I’ll be her worst pain in the ass.”

Both Saul and Glover said that they would return to their work, citing no plans for future political campaigns.

“We will move forward these next four years with anticipation,” Peterson said.

Archived article by Jeff Sickelco