In a Jan. 5 Common Council meeting, Svante Myrick ’09 publicly announced his resignation as the 44th Mayor of Ithaca after accepting an offer from People for the American Way, where he will serve as executive director.
At 24 years old, Myrick became the youngest person in City history to be sworn into mayoral office and Ithaca’s first mayor of color.
Throughout his 10-year, three-term career, Myrick’s agenda primarily focused on expanding affordable housing options, working toward resolving Ithaca’s substantial $3 million budget deficit and improving city-wide infrastructure.
Under his leadership, the City has seen a $37 million plan to rebuild Ithaca water treatment, the development of housing units like Magnolia House and West End Heights, renovations made to famed city attractions like the Ithaca Farmers Market and more.
“I have spent my entire adult life serving the City of Ithaca – and I’ve given all of my effort to the largest challenges we face,” Myrick wrote in a Facebook post earlier this month.
However, citing growing concerns for the “state of our democracy,” Myrick will step down from the mayorship and work at People for the American Way alongside organization President Ben Jealous.
People for the American Way was founded as a progressive advocacy organization in 1981 to fight “right-wing extremism and build a democratic society,” according to the group’s website. The non-profit, based in Washington, D.C., currently runs a variety of campaigns ranging from the defense of voting rights to protection of immigrant communities.
Myrick’s affiliation with the organization dates back to 2017, when he was appointed as Director of Youth Leadership Programs after a nine-year membership with the Young Elected Officials Network. Myrick will be joining People For the American Way in a full time role at the beginning of next month.
“I believe my service can make a difference in the national conversation on voting and elections,” Myrick said. “I want to protect that American dream for people of all backgrounds.”
In Myrick’s place, Acting Mayor Laura Lewis will assume office on Feb. 7. Lewis, an alderperson for Ithaca’s fifth ward, was elected to the Common Council in 2017 and has predominantly lobbied for affordable housing, volunteering on the board of directors of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services prior to her term.
In more recent years, Lewis has worked on the Ithaca Eviction/Displacement Defense Project and successfully proposed legislation in November to the Common Council providing legal representation to tenants in eviction court
“I have the utmost confidence that she will do an outstanding job,” Myrick wrote. “I believe in many ways her empathetic, earnest and tactful leadership is exactly [what] our community needs right now.”