Ithaca’s own alumnus mayor threw his weight behind a fellow Cornellian’s State Assembly bid on Thursday, as Svante Myrick ’09 endorsed his longtime city government colleague Seph Murtagh Ph.D. ’09 (D-2nd Ward) for the 125th State Assembly District seat.
The seat will be vacated this fall by Barbara Lifton (D-125th), who’s held the position representing Tompkins County, the City of Cortland and multiple other towns in the local area for nearly two decades. Myrick, whose mayoral gig followed soon after his own graduation, previously volunteered for Lifton and has repeatedly praised her service. Murtagh currently serves as Lifton’s communications director.
Myrick announced his endorsement at a windy press conference on Thursday morning in Press Bay Alley, extolling Murtagh — whom he called a “native son” of Ithaca — for his dedication to public service and his work as the chair of Ithaca’s Planning and Economic Development Committee.
Murtagh, who holds a Ph.D. in English from Cornell, grew up in Trumansburg and worked for the Ithaca Times before running to represent Ithaca’s Second Ward on the city’s Common Council, which Myrick chairs. He’s running on a platform that emphasizes environmental action, housing policy and education.
Murtagh previously told The Sun that it was his work reporting on the local community that spurred him to seek public office: “I probably started to become more interested in the issues than I should’ve been as a reporter,” Murtagh said earlier this month.
Murtagh will face six other Democratic challengers for the post in a primary on June 23. The winner will be on the ballot for the general election in November.
When asked why he’s wading into the fray in support of Murtagh — he’ll have to work with the winner regardless — Myrick answered that this moment requires “bravery and honesty” in addition to hard work and vision, all qualities that he praised in Murtagh.
In thanking the mayor for the endorsement, Murtagh said that he had added up all the time the two had physically spent in meetings in the city council chambers together, and that it totaled over four full weeks of “arguing about policing, housing, infrastructure, storm water — all the issues that matter to the city.” Myrick quipped that “it never felt a day over three weeks.”
The primary for the Democratic party’s nomination for the seat will take place on June 23.