In a few weeks, Michael Taylor ’05 (D-4th Ward) will finish his two-year term on the Ithaca Common Council.
“I’m sad to see him go,” said fellow ward representative Gayraud Townsend ’05 (D). “Mike’s been a friend of mine, a colleague of mine, and he’s definitely somebody I look up to.”
His term ends on Dec. 31.
Taylor said that although he has been involved in many of the Council’s decisions, including those unrelated to the fourth ward specifically, he feels he is best known for his work on the city’s noise ordinance.
When Taylor was first elected, the Council was considering a new noise ordinance which he said “basically described a student party” and imposed harsh penalties for it. Taylor worked to help amend the proposed ordinance to make it similar to the old one but with increased fines. The new ordinance also gives police greater power in enforcing violations without a third party issuing a complaint.
Since then, Taylor has focused on the ordinance’s enforcement, particularly on ending an Ithaca Police Department policy to arrest violators near the end of spring semester so that they do not flee their hearings after graduation.
“Something that I consider a major victory really happened without too much fanfare about a month ago, when during a community services meeting, in a conversation I had with the mayor on the floor, it was decided that practice would end,” Taylor said.
Another project Taylor was proud of was the revival of the Rental Housing Advisory Commission, which had been dormant for several years.
Although the idea to run for Common Council was originally Taylor’s, he said he couldn’t have done his job without Townsend there alongside him.
“Without having Gayraud on Common Council, this experience would have been much different and, I think, much less enjoyable and much less productive,” Taylor said.
He added that although he and Townsend’s were not the first students to serve on the Council – two students had done so previously – it was the first time that two students were on the Council at the same time.
“It really is a team effort,” Townsend said of his and Taylor’s work on the Council. “He was like the peanut butter, and I was the jelly. … I know for a fact that the city will miss him.”
But even though his closest partner was his fellow classmate, Taylor found other friends on the Council, such as Michelle Berry M.P.S. ’92 (D-2nd Ward).
“There’s a subtle message [among some people on Common Council] that even if students get elected, they should stay in place,” Berry said, in a May 5 Sun article. “I like that Michael didn’t.” Taylor will be replaced by David Gelinas ’07 (D), who was elected in an unopposed race in November.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that David’s going to step in … and not miss a beat,” Townsend said. Taylor said he’s particularly encouraged about student representation because, in addition to Gelinas, next year Nate Shinagawa ’05 (D) will take the 4th District seat in the county legislature.
Having students elected to local government “makes the Council and the Legislature much more legitimate institutions,” Taylor said.
Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor