Ithaca needs to invest in its future. We need to ensure that our children inherit an effective, diverse, and fiscally sound government.
I have spent years serving Ithaca’s young people as a tutor and mentor in Boynton Middle School, Ithaca High School and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC). I serve on the board of Greater Ithaca Activity Center (GIAC) and CCETC and I chaired the Committee to Create the Ithaca Youth Council.
I understand that the youth of this community need only to be empowered. If we provide them with a safe and positive environment we can produce a generation of young people that will change the world.
Our youth programs need to do more than provide a safe space and recreation, though this is incredibly important.
They also must provide our young people with job-training and life skills, teach them how to use a credit card responsibly and open a bank account, how to do well at interviews. And they must engage our youth on difficult issues like racism, sexism, and hetero-centrism. Our youth programs provide a perfect venue for creating a generation of empowered, capable, and accepting Ithacans.
The Mayor must be an effective and persuasive advocate at the State level for local youth funding.
The City of Ithaca should:
- Continue to support GIAC, the Southside Community Center, and the Ithaca Youth Bureau
- Work to ensure our youth programs are not just recreational, but also meaningful.
- Urge the state to continue their support. We need youth programs now, not incarceration programs later.
The City can lead the way in sustainability by pursuing:
- “Green” purchasing
- Reduction of fossil fuel consumption in buildings and fleet
- Innovations in building design
We must continue our work to create a walkable city.
I support a fracking ban in the City of Ithaca. But if we are going to protect our watershed, we need to do more.
As Mayor, I will be an active and effective advocate for the City of Ithaca in Albany and work to find innovative ways to protect our watershed, air, and land.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Speaking about diversity is one thing, but actually pursuing a diverse workforce and holding yourself accountable is more difficult.
That is why the City’s Workforce Diversity Committee deserves the continued support of city leadership. The Committee works to educate City Departments about the attributes that lead to a truly inclusive workplace,and holds these Departments accountable to our ideals. If we are to be a truly accepting and inclusive community, we must continue to support these efforts.
Strong, disciplined management is the hallmark of any successful government. The City should borrow only for capital projects – not operating expenses – and capitalize on low interest rates to make sound investments in our future.
Mayor Peterson and Controller Steven Thayer have proven to be disciplined fiscal managers by budgeting conservatively (intentionally overestimating expenses and underestimating revenues) and putting money into savings whenever possible. That fiscal discipline has paid off over the last three years, as despite the recession and lower revenue, Ithaca has been able to maintain the services that make our City great.
As Mayor, I will work with Controller Thayer to continue those disciplined practices.
The current administration has wisely made the reform of parking management in the City a priority. The City can save property taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year through better management of its garages, surface lots and parking meters.
Take, for example, the metered parking spaces in Collegetown. During the day, while the meters are running these spaces are largely vacant. Students, who are looking to avoid parking tickets and are unable to feed the meter every two hours, ‘hide’ their cars elsewhere. They park in paved over backyards or in surrounding neighborhoods. At 6pm when the meters stop running, the streets of Collegetown fill up as all of the cars come out of hiding.
Smart meters, which accept credit card payments, would encourage students to swipe their card once and leave their cars on-street all day. The rates would be adjusted until the City achieves 85% occupancy in our on-street metered spaces. 85% is the balance that parking experts recommend in order to maximize revenue while still ensuring that shoppers can park conveniently. This balance is especially important for businesses like Kraftees, The Bike Rack, Classical Optical, Fontanas Shoes and others that need available parking to bring in customers.
This approach to parking management would:
· Generate non-tax revenue for the City
· Relieve parking pressure from backyards, Bryant Park and Belle Sherman
· Provide students with a more convenient alternative to the current ‘musical chairs’ parking
EXPLORATION OF A CITY MANAGER
It is time to explore the organizational infrastructure of the Mayor’s office. A city that has 14 departments, over 300 employees, and a $60 million dollar budget needs an appropriate amount of support at the mayoral level. Our City has just grown too big for our current charter.
If we’re going to make sure the City lives up to its responsibilities to maintain our infrastructure, it’s time we explore the need for a city manager or administrator. As mayor, I will initiate a community conversation and organizational analysis that will explore what kind of support the Mayor’s office needs to run an efficient, proactive, and responsive City government. By reforming our City’s management structure, we make service delivery more effective and accountable, save money, and allow the mayor and council to focus on setting the direction of the City.