October 31, 2022

MEHLER | The Steady Hand Ithaca Needs

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Disclaimer: This opinion column solely and exclusively consists of my point of view and does not reflect any organizations or institutions that I work for or am employed by, including but not limited to The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University or Cornell Votes.

For those who have decided to vote in Ithaca, all city residents will have at least ten races to vote on in the Nov. 8 election. Between an incredibly tight Congressional and State Senate race in our district, much energy has been directed toward the larger races on the ballot. However, the special election to serve a one-year term as the Mayor of Ithaca may bypass voters’ priority list. After working with Acting Mayor Laura Lewis for the past year on the Ithaca Common Council, I wholeheartedly endorse and support her candidacy for this special term. Many of my colleagues on the Common Council and I partook in a general endorsement of Laura in September, but Lewis’s positive impact on students at Cornell warrant further endorsement.

Laura was the first in her family to go to college and after planting roots in Ithaca. She has significantly contributed to Ithaca’s success for over 40 years while both of her sons attended public school here and went to Ithaca College. No other candidate for mayor has cemented as strong of a tie to this place and its educational institutions than Lewis.

Before entering public service, Laura worked at Cornell ILR for many years and retired as the Director of ILR’s Office of Student Services. At Cornell, Lewis helped thousands of students, some of whom she stills hears from, during their transformational time in college . Many of her initiatives continue to benefit students, such as her creation of the ILR Peer Mentor program that continues to assist first-years and transfers more than ten years later. Prior to and since her professional retirement, Laura has actively been involved in the broader Ithaca community. Laura has served as the board chair of Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services and serves as the current board chair of TCAT. Her dedication to this community is the true embodiment of service.

After successfully running for Common Council in 2017, Laura won reelection in 2019 to represent Ithaca’s Fifth Ward, including much of North Campus, Cornell Heights and Fall Creek. While her legislative and budgetary accomplishments remain profoundly successful and have been covered in other letters of support and news stories, I believe Laura’s dedication to Ithaca and all of its residents illuminates her as the best choice for representing the city’s needs.

Laura’s demonstrated commitment to public service, her career in student support and her extensive record of fighting for all Ithacans highlight her as Ithaca’s most qualified candidate for mayor. In addition to the mayor’s race, Ithacans will decide on whether to adopt a city manager system of government; should this much-needed referendum pass, the transition to a city manager will need a cooperative and committed mayor with institutional knowledge — all qualities that Laura possesses.

Finally, Laura has been not only an incredible colleague but a dear friend, providing guidance and mentorship to me throughout my time on the Common Council. I have full faith in such a kind person who truly sees the City of Ithaca as a harmonious place where full time residents and students can create, live, work, dream, learn and play. Laura is the steady hand city government needs.

Regardless of whom you vote for or where you live, every Cornellian should act upon their civic duty to vote in the upcoming election on Nov. 8. For those in Ithaca and the rest of New York State, in-person early voting is ongoing and as of this article’s publication, the voter registration deadline has past, absentee ballots must be postmarked soon and in-person election day voting will see polling sites open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Regardless of your political leanings, where you will be voting, how you will be voting and who you might be voting for, my unwavering opinion in this column and all my other publications remains steadfast: vote.

Patrick J. Mehler (he/him) is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at [email protected] The Mehl-Man Delivers runs alternate Mondays this semester.