November 9, 2011

24-Year-Old Svante Myrick Elected as Mayor of Ithaca, Building Clean Energy Economy

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Yesterday was a historic day for the City of Ithaca, NY. 24-year-old Svante Myrick was elected mayor, becoming the youngest mayor in Ithaca’s history and the city’s first African American mayor.

As a youth climate activist at Cornell with KyotoNOW, I was immediately impressed by Svante’s commitment to preventing hydrofracking in New York and his vision for a more sustainable Ithaca. He is dedicated to creating a more walkable, bikeable community, promoting clean energy, supporting local businesses, and developing green jobs. I knocked on hundreds of doors, with many other volunteers, to spread the word about Svante’s campaign because he is exactly the type of leader my generation has been hoping for.

Volunteering for Svante’s campaign made me feel like a part of this community more than ever before, by going to door-to-door and listening to the issues that community members care about. Even the act of registering to vote here made me feel more in tune with local news and more invested in the future of Ithaca. At Cornell with KyotoNOW, we are redefining the borders of our campus, building lasting relationships with community members, and coming together to take a stand against dirty energy and to build a clean energy future.

Svante is committed to protecting the health of Ithacans and to preserving the natural beauty of this area. He has made it clear that he supports a ban on fracking in the City of Ithaca and is advocating for a ban on fracking across the state, while also pushing for clean energy. He recognizes that “it is not acceptable to be forced to choose between allowing drilling companies to destroy our community, or purchasing coal that is destroying other communities around the country.”

Svante has already taken bold action on climate change and is committed to promoting energy efficiency. Just this past spring, Svante, along with his fellow City Council members Eric Rossario and Jennifer Dotson, accepted a petition signed by 300 Ithaca young people at the April 9th Youth Power Summit. The petition called on the City to reaffirm its commitment and cut climate-heating pollution 80% by 2050. Svante also supports energy upgrade programs like the Tompkins Energy Conservation Corps, founded by Dominic Frongillo (Councilmember for the Town of Caroline), which reduces our City’s emissions, saves money for homeowners and the City, and generates green jobs. Svante is pushing for a full-time Sustainability Coordinator position, in order to make sustainability a priority for the City of Ithaca. Svante understands how expanded wind and solar energy production in our region of New York would jump-start the clean energy economy and is examining projects such as such as the Enfield wind farm.

Svante is also firmly committed to a just and sustainable future. In particular, he supports investing in youth programs, after he spent many years volunteering as a mentor for local high school students. As an advocate for our generation and for racial equality, he “...understand(s) 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.”

At 24-years-old, Svante overcame significant ageism by demonstrating his maturity, creativity, and innovative leadership. He is idealistic and driven by a strong sense of morality, yet also realistic and level-headed. He credits his experience with poverty and homelessness as a child for teaching him the importance of compassion. His believes that Ithaca is “...a community that values the inherent dignity of all people, that believes in fundamental human rights, and that understands our responsibility for endowing a better world to future generations.” Svante has proven the power of young people to shape the future.

This election has profoundly impacted me and has demonstrated the power of local solutions towards a clean energy economy. Local elections really do matter, as we can see with yesterday’s landslide victory for the neighboring Town of Dryden, upon which the fate the fracking ban hinged.

Svante Myrick is helping to lead Ithaca to a clean energy future, showing what is possible for local solutions to both the climate crisis and the economic crisis. Svante embodies the change our generation seeks in an elected official. I’m excited to continue to help build a thriving, just, sustainable community here in the coming years.

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