September 12, 2011

Graham Kerslick Will Likely Be Next Collegetown Representative On Common Council

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For the first time in four years, Ithaca’s 4th Ward, composed mainly of students living in Collegetown, will no longer be represented on Ithaca’s Common Council only by young Cornell alumni. Unless another candidate unexpectedly enters the race, Graham Kerslick will represent the 4th Ward on Ithaca’s Common Council, which encompasses West Campus, Cascadilla Park and most of Collegetown. Kerslick — a native of England, but long-time resident of Ithaca — is a Democrat and is one of four candidates running unopposed for a seat on the Common Council. The seat is currently held by Svante Myrick ’09, who is running for mayor instead of seeking reelection. Kerslick will join Eddie Rooker ’09 (D-4th Ward) as the second council member for his ward, bringing more diverse representation to an area populated with nearly 6,000 residents who are mainly, but not completely, students. In addition to describing him as “very intelligent” and “a good communicator,” Rooker said that he thought Kerslick would be important for getting in touch with the older, permanent residents in the ward who compose a small yet vocal portion of the population.Rooker also said he thought Kerslick would play “a vital role in pushing forward the Collegetown Plan,” a set of four heavily debated proposals aimed at increasing population density in the core of Collegetown while protecting the character of single-family homes in surrounding neighborhoods.Kerslick expressed concern over resident engagement in the plan, which he said had lost steam in the later stages of development.“After all of that work it gets very frustrating for people on both sides to see that huge amount of effort to be put on hold,” Kerslick said. “I would like to think that for future development, there must be a better way to do that to get people more involved.”Kerslick also emphasized his goal to increase resident participation in the government, politics and planning throughout the city. “I decided to run partly because, like most people, I’ve been disillusioned by the national scene’s importance, where you’ve lost some of the ideas of getting people involved in government and politics,” Kerslick said “I wanted to try, maybe naively, to see if that can change on the local level.”Kerslick, who is the Associate Director of both Cornell’s Energy Research Center and Microenvironment and Metastis Research Center, said that he did not consider his involvement in Common Council to be a conflict of interest with his work at Cornell. “I work with students, so in some sense I think there’s an advantage to that for this ward, but I don’t see that as a conflict,” Kerslick said. “In most cases, my position outside of Cornell would be to represent the ward and the public interest of the city … There may be places where a conflict might come up, but in general I would think that what benefits this community would be of benefit to Cornell.” Although Kerslick is not an alumnus, nor a student at the University, he did not see his status as being important to his role as alderperson.“You don’t necessarily have to be a student to represent student interests,” he said. “Whats important is if you’re interested in the community.”

Original Author: Liz Camuti