2015 local candidate profiles

Your 2015 Ithaca elections guide to all candidates in contested races, as well as an introduction to any new candidates on the scene.

If you are registered to vote in Ithaca, you can use the following link to find your polling place: http://tompkinscountyny.gov/boe/For_Voters/Where_to_Vote/Index_City_of_Ithaca.

And of course, don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, November 3rd!

Mayor (City of Ithaca):

Source: http://www.svantemyrick.com/

Candidate: Svante Myrick

Running for: Mayor (Incumbent)

Ward/District: Ward 4, City of Ithaca

Party: Democrat

Background:

  • Youngest and first mayor of color in the City of Ithaca
  • Graduated from Cornell in 2009
  • Elected to Common Council at age 20 while still at Cornell, sworn in as Mayor in 2012 at the age of 24

Issue Stances:

  • Strongly for environmental sustainability and protection
  • Wants to improve public transportation in the City of Ithaca
  • Supports preserving neighborhoods from development
  • Proponent of diversity and inclusion initiatives through the Workforce Diversity Committee
  • Supports larger donations from local non-profits, including Ithaca’s universities, to reduce budget deficit in order to curb property tax and help drive down rent
Source: Ithaca Times

Candidate: Phoebe Brown

Running for: Mayor

Party: Write-In

Background:

  • Long time resident and activist from Ithaca
  • She is the community outreach liaison for the Cayuga Medical Center
  • Wanted to have a dialogue for change by running for mayor

Issue Stances:

  • Black lives matter activist encouraging cooperation between citizens and police officers
  • Wants to establish new affordable housing for low income residents
  • Believes Ithaca has become too touristy and needs to work on internal development

Interesting fact: Ms. Brown is a 2012–13 fellow of the Cornell Civic Leaders Program, which recognizes and supports leaders involved in economic and community development efforts.

County Legislature (Tompkins County):

Source: Ithaca Journal

Candidate: Elie Kirshner

Running for: County Legislator

Ward/District: District 4

Party: Democrat

Background:

  • Current undergraduate at Cornell
  • He is 19 years old
  • Worked on Mayor Svante Myrick’s reelection campaign

Issue Stances:

  • Supports affordable housing, living wages, sustainability and social justice
  • Improving care and resources for people with mental illness

Interesting fact: Lead coordinator in Collegetown Small Business Alliance

Source: Ithaca Times

Candidate: Rich John

Running for: County Legislator

Ward/District: District 4

Party: Write-In

Background:

  • Has lived in Ithaca for fifty years
  • Lived in the district on East Hill for eighteen years
  • Served as general counsel for the past nine years for Global Testing Lab
  • Has practiced law for twenty-nine years

Issue stances:

  • Wants to focus on energy efficiency in Tompkins County
  • Values saving as much money as possible in energy
  • Wants government to be transparent, to be an open process
  • Is not against tax abatements, but wants to make sure that they are actually useful when given
Source: Ithaca Journal

Candidate: Nate Shinagawa

Running for: County Legislator

Ward/District: District 2

Party: Democrat

Background:

  • Cornell Alumnus
  • Currently the Vice President of Hospital Operations at Robert Packer Hospital
  • Served as a county legislator for 10 years

Issue Stances:

  • Wants county police to wear body cameras
  • Pro- living wage for county contractors
  • Improving access to affordable housing
  • Reducing property taxes
Source: http://annakelles.com/

Candidate: Anna Kelles

Running for: County Legislator

Ward/District: District 2

Party: Ithaca Community

Background:

  • Has a PHD from UNC Chapel Hill
  • She is a nutritionist and program director for nutritional education programs
  • Local business owner and long time Ithaca resident

Issue Stances:

  • Promote diverse and affordable housing arrangements for low income and seniors
  • Re-entry program for prisoners, as well as body cameras to police officers
  • Supply tax abatements for developments that use local labor, a living wage and incorporate sustainable technologies into them

Common Council (City of Ithaca):

Source: http://ducsonnguyen.com/

Candidate: Ducson Nguyen

Running for: Alderperson

Ward/District: Ward 2

Party: Democrat

Background:

  • Received his bachelors and masters degrees in computer science from Rutgers University and Villanova University, respectively
  • Software engineer at local Ithaca company, GrammaTech
  • Lived in Ithaca full-time for the past 2 years in the Northside neighborhood

Issue Stances:

  • Improving access to affordable housing
  • Improving infrastructure from parks to sidewalks to zoning
  • Modernizing the Ithaca economy

Interesting fact: Donut enthusiast

Source: Ithaca Journal

Candidate: Sean Gannon

Running for: Alderperson

Ward/District: Ward 2

Party: Downtown Ithaca

Background:

  • Resident of Ithaca since 2002
  • Graduate of economics and marketing program from University of Pennsylvania
  • Involved in the renovations of historic buildings

Issue Stances:

  • Pro community policing
  • Pro safe biking passages
  • Reevaluation of tax assessments to encourage neighborhood growth
  • More green spaces sanctioned by Ithaca government

Interesting Fact: Animal lover with several pets

Source: Ithaca Times

Candidate: Robert Gearhart

Running for: Alderperson

Ward/District: Ward 3

Party: Democrat

Background:

  • Lived in the Third Ward for 16 years
  • Lived in four of the five city wards over the last 36 years
  • Earned his Bachelor’s degree in Communications Management (1982), and Masters in Educational Communications (1985) from Ithaca College
  • Gearhart is the Assistant Provost for Online Learning and Extended Studies, Offices of Extended Studies at Ithaca College
  • Member of the Board of Directors for the State Theatre of Ithaca
  • Wife works as a fundraiser in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology, and his son is a junior at Cornell
  • The Third Ward covers part of Cornell’s campus

Issue Stances:

  • Supports the State Theatre as a way to promote arts and music in Ithaca, and serve as an “economic engine” for “downtown Ithaca” and the neighboring community
  • Supports the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services’ 210 Hancock Street Proposal
  • Supports the creation of an 11-­story Trebloc site in Downtown Ithaca
  • Supports the incumbent Mayor
Like what you read? Give City and Local Affairs a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.