November 7, 2011

Mayoral Election Shakes Up City

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The curtain will close on a mayoral election filled with plot twists, a colorful cast and plenty of audience participation as the voters in the City of Ithaca go to the polls on Tuesday to choose their next mayor.Over a six-month campaign, seven candidates made their appearance on the stage. Three made early exits, while four — Independence candidate Alderperson J.R. Clairborne (D-2nd Ward), Democratic candidate Alderperson Svante Myrick ’09 (D-4th Ward), Republican candidate Janis Kelly ’71 and independent candidate Wade Wykstra, a commissioner of the Board of Public Works — look to win on Tuesday.  After 25 debates, dozens of interviews and countless hours spent canvassing door-to-door, the candidates said Sunday that they believe the contested election breathed fresh life into the city’s stagnant political discourse.“People are starting to pay attention and get excited about what’s going on in the city again,” said Kelly, who added that this is the most contested race she has seen since moving to Ithaca in 1967.Kelly added that, regardless of who wins, the competition has shaken the Democratic party — which includes most elected officials in the city — off its moorings.“The Democratic party in Ithaca is so in-grown … more and more people got disengaged even in the last six or seven years. I think that’s changing; people are starting to pay attention,” Kelly said.Wykstra agreed that the race’s competition has proven beneficial to improving dialogue.“It’s been a while since there was a real opposition,” Wykstra said. “In order to see good ideas get forged, ideas need to be challenged. That’s good for Ithaca.” Myrick, the Democrat, also said the competition was healthy for discussing the pressing issues faced by the city. Clairborne did not return a request for comment Sunday.“It definitely shook up the Democratic party, but it also shook up the Republican party and the Green party and independents,” Myrick said. “The race has awoken thousands of people to their city government and reintroduced them to the way government works — which is amazing.”Myrick, who said he has campaigned from 9 a.m. to midnight five days a week, added that the race has reinvigorated the city.“I’m glad we were able to have a productive issues-based campaign, focused on making the city a better place for everyone who lives here,” Myrick said. “It’s been the time of my life: Seeing people get excited and enthused about making the place they live better, not just for themselves but for the people that come after them.”To find your polling location, go to the Board of Election website, which can be accessed at

Original Author: Jeff Stein