With the mayoral election coming up this year, it seemed as though Mayor Svante Myrick, if he did indeed decide to run for re-election, was going to run unopposed.
But a last-minute campaign effort has given the incumbent mayor some competition for the race. Adam Levine, a local resident who has observed some of the changes Ithaca has faced in recent years, is taking on the challenge to make Ithaca a better place. Campaigning under the WE Party, Levine said he wants to govern with the people, and for the people.
Levine decided to run for mayor after several community members encouraged him to do so, citing a need for seeking better changes that helped residents. However, since he recently started a new job, he wasn’t sure he’d have the time to campaign. Levine eventually figured that he could make it work and began the road to campaigning. Despite significant effort to gather signatures from the public, he fell short of the needed goal of 339, having around 250 signatures. Despite this, Myrick announced that he would not challenge Levine’s election petition, allowing him to continue in the race and making Levine the only challenger for the office in 2019. Levine emphasized that, if elected, he would prioritize trying to make Ithaca a greener city.
“I want to buy energy differently,” Levine said. “There are places that buy all their energy all as one community. I saw someone speak at Cornell Cooperative Extension—he’s a council member in Pittsford, a medium-sized town in New York State. They began buying their energy as a community all from one source and a renewable source. So, think about that. Buying your energy from one source makes you a better, more powerful consumer, so the price goes down for everyone, from the renewable source means we'd be part of the solution. Why haven’t we talked about that in Ithaca, if other places are doing this in New York State? Are we not aware of this because it's renewable?”
Some of the benefits of buying energy as a community could be having energy bills that are affordable instead of having to juggle their bills in order to afford to have a family, Levine said. Levine’s city administration would be oriented on making life both affordable for people. Much like Alderperson Cynthia Brock has been advocating in recent months, Levine wants to bring rent control protections to Ithaca as well.
Coming from New York City, Levine is familiar with the protections granted under the Emergency Tenant Protection Act of 1974. However, instead of affecting small time local landlords, Levine would ensure the localized piece of legislation would focus on landlords charging exorbitant rents for disproportionately sized properties. Finally, he’d like to focus on a perennial issue for Ithacans: affordable housing.
“Many people in Ithaca are worried that with all the new development, the charm is being lost,” Levine said. “Many people on a different issue, but not disconnected, realize there is not enough affordable housing. So, how do we make sure that we get to a place where there is affordable housing, where poor mothers of multiple children don't get pushed out to Groton where they have no car and no resources and while they have jobs and services in Ithaca? Then they have to take a bus that doesn't run very often there. They're often completely disconnected from everything.[...] It's kind of torturous. You know, it's stressful to do that to people.”
Levine is adamant about making sure people have an affordable hub of enterprise once again. While many rents might be $980 a month, the added cost of electricity, heating, and other utilities can increase costs to $1,100 or $1,200 every month. For some, the idea of skimping on heat during the colder months seems ideal, but Levine wants to make sure that people don’t have to continue doing that.
In coming up with the name for his political party, Levine wanted something symbolic of what he stands for and what his entire campaign will stand for. He based the idea on what acclaimed writer and editor of The Paris Review, George Plimpton, considered the shortest poem. Originally, the shortest poem was: “Adam had ‘em.” Levine liked this because of his first name, but the shortest poem was changed to “me, we” which was said by Muhammed Ali.
While he might be poor at remembering people’s names, Levine is trying to make up for this by being a people person. He wants to make people his “bottom line,” he said.