Common Council member David Whitmore ’96 (D-2nd Ward) announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election at the end of his term. The decision leaves his position on the Council — one of two that represent the 2nd Ward in downtown Ithaca — up for grabs in the coming November election.
Whitmore is one of five Council members, including Collegetown’s Michael Taylor ’05 (D-4th Ward), whose terms will end in December. He will leave the Council to pursue a Master’s in public administration at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where he has been awarded the Margaret Jane White Scholarship, a full tuition scholarship awarded for commitment to public duty.
None of the other members have declared their candidacy plans yet, and Whitmore said that he did not know who might fill his seat next year.
“No one’s said anything formally to me [about running for the spot]. I haven’t even heard that many rumors, to be honest,” Whitmore said in a press interview. “I would love to see a young person running for this position — even though we’re lucky enough to have two Cornell students on Council, being someone under 30 on Council is a pretty unique experience, and it would be great to get other young people involved,” he added.
Whitmore is currently serving his second term on the Common Council.
Several Council members spoke at the press conference after Whitmore made his announcement.
“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to you for welcoming new Council members,” said Mary Tomlan (D-3rd Ward). “That, as well as bringing people together on various issues, I think were really a hallmark of your service,” she added.
One of Whitmore’s accomplishments on the Council, which he described as one of “my geekier moments,” was to initiate an orientation for new Council members.
Council member Maria Coles (D-1st Ward) thanked Whitmore for helping her with her campaign for Common Council. Council members Michelle Berry M.S. ’92 (D-2nd Ward) and Daniel Cogan (D-2nd Ward) also thanked Whitmore for his service.
According to Taylor, Whitmore “has been a true ally in terms of trying to make the community inclusive to everyone.”
“David knows that the best way you’re going to reach a goal is by mutual cooperation,” he added.
“The first lesson I learned was that inter-municipal politics are essential to the survival of the city, the towns and the county. We must find new ways to cooperate and keep costs down,” Whitmore said in his statement.
Whitmore serves on the Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit Board, which pools resources from Cornell, the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County to provide TCAT’s bus service.
Taylor said that Whitmore’s perspectives as a Cornell graduate helped him better understand the needs of students and other young members of the community.
“I think he understands the perspective of the 50 percent of the community who are under 22,” Taylor said. “Some people don’t see students as real residents … David does,” he added. Council member Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D-4th Ward) described Whitmore as “a champion for many of the youth issues in the city,” and added that Whitmore helped him as a young Council member.
“He embraced my ideas and my thoughts,” Townsend said. “Being young, you face a lot of adversity on Council.”
But Townsend said that he did not think Whitmore’s perspective as a Cornell alumnus affected his actions on Council.
“He accepted everyone equally. I don’t think [him being an alumnus] had anything to do with it,” he said.
In his statement, Whitmore said that his greatest accomplishment has been his work with the Southside Community Center, a nonprofit organization in downtown Ithaca. Under Whitmore’s term, Southside’s funding was increased by $35,000.
Whitmore told reporters that he would continue to attend Council meetings for the rest of his term. Because Council members must reside in the ward they represent, he will commute to Syracuse University, where he starts in June.
“During the summer, it’s full time, 9-5 Monday through Friday, so it won’t allow me to do much else. But I’ll still be obviously coming to Council meetings, going to committee meetings, keeping up with a few responsibilities,” Whitmore said.
Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor