Common Council Member Michael Taylor ’05 (D-4th Ward) announced yesterday that he would not seek reelection to the Council. He said he will stay in Ithaca until the end of his term on Dec. 31, but then plans to pursue a job in government and, eventually, attend law school.
Taylor said feels the Fourth Ward would be best represented by a current student.
“When I moved to Collegetown three years ago, my sophomore year — between that time and now, because of the nature of Collegetown, the residents have really changed,” Taylor said. “In a democracy, it’s really important for representatives to be really in touch with their constituents. And I intend to do that, but I think that looking ahead to the future, someone who is of the peer group of most of the residents in this community should logically represent them.”
Taylor is one of two representatives from the Fourth Ward. The other, Gayraud Townsend ’05, is not up for reelection until December of 2006.
Each of Ithaca’s five wards has two representatives on the Council. Usually, both representatives for a given ward serve for four years, with the terms staggered by two years. The last election, however, took place after a census, so all elections took place at once. To maintain the staggered terms, one representative from each ward was set to serve for four years, the other, two. Such a census happens every 10 years.
During his announcement, Taylor summarized some of his achievements on the Council. These included working to improve off-campus student housing, discussion about the state of roads in Ithaca — particularly University Avenue between the Johnson Museum and Thurston Avenue Bridge — and, most recently, his involvement with the noise ordinance.
“Another point of pride for me have been my votes on the noise ordinance. It has always been my position that what we need to do was simply enforce an existing ordinance, and not really change it,” Taylor said, adding that he preferred to focus instead on community awareness and quick police response to noise problems.
Taylor said he also helped revive the Ithaca Rental Housing Commission, which was formed in 1989 but dissolved in the early 1990s due to a lack of citizen participation. The commission held its first forum public meeting since then on April 27 to solicit community input.
As one of two student representatives on the Common Council, Taylor said that his relationship with other members of council “has its ups and downs.”
“There are certain members of council who have much more of a desire to work with the student community and treat them with the kind of respect that the community expects, and there are members of council who really don’t view students as part of their constituencies,” Taylor said.
But he stressed that, “overall the relationship is good … we’ve been moving forward.”
Townsend and fellow Council Member Michelle Berry M.P.S. ’92 (D-2nd Ward) attended Taylor’s announcement.
“I think Mike really does embody all the qualities which a student leader is supposed to have at Cornell.” Townsend said. “I hope this trend of students being on city Council continues,” he added.
Berry said that she admires Taylor’s courage in representing students’ concerns to the council.
“There’s a subtle message [among some people on Common Council] that even if students get elected, they should stay in place,” Berry said. “I like that Michael didn’t.”
Today, David Gelinas ’07 is expected to announce his candidacy for the Council seat. The announcement will take place at 4:30 in front of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. Gelinas is the 2007 class president.
Earlier this week, Common Council Member Mary Tomlan (D-3rd Ward) announced that she will be running for another term.
Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor