|Mayor of Ithaca|
January 1, 2012
|Preceded by||Carolyn K. Peterson|
March 15, 1987 |
|Residence||Ithaca, New York|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
|Awards||The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards (2014)|
Svante L. Myrick (born March 15, 1987) is an American politician serving as the mayor of Ithaca, New York. He is a member of the Democratic Party. In September 2011, Myrick won a contested primary election for the Democratic Party mayoral nomination, and on November 8, 2011, won the general election with 54.9% of the vote, defeating three other candidates (two independents and one Republican).
Upon taking office in 2012, Myrick became the city’s youngest mayor and its first African-American mayor. Myrick was born in Florida and raised in the small town of Earlville, New York. First elected at age of 20 to Ithaca's Common Council, he was one of the youngest elected African Americans in United States history and is one of the youngest mayors in US history.
Early life and education
Svante Myrick is the third of four children, raised in Earlville, New York, a small village with 900 people, by his single mother and his grandparents. Through his childhood, he was in and out of homelessness; his family struggled to get by and depended on food stamps. He attended public schools and graduated from Sherburne-Earlville High School in 2005.
Myrick then studied communication at Cornell University, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and a leader of the Interfraternity Council and Quill and Dagger society. He began his public-service career though volunteer activities while a student, including working with the REACH program (Raising Education Attainment Challenge) and the Ithaca Youth Council. Myrick graduated in 2009.
Common council (2008–2011)
In January 2008, at the age of 20, Myrick became the youngest alderperson in the history of the City of Ithaca. Myrick’s principal contributions while serving as a councilman included forwarding a successful effort to create a "tobacco-free zone" on the Ithaca Commons, promoting youth involvement in city government through overseeing the creation of the Ithaca Youth Council, and playing a role in master planning and zoning changes in Ithaca’s dense, student-dominated Collegetown neighborhood.
Mayoral campaign (2011)
On March 29, 2011, Myrick declared his intent to pursue the office of Mayor of Ithaca as a Democrat. In the Primary election, he faced Alderperson J. R. Claiborne, and County Legislator Pamela Mackesey. As the Democratic Party nominee, Myrick faced concerns about his age, experience, connection to the community and capability. Myrick earned 54.9% of votes cast in the November general election (a 28.5% margin from the nearest candidate), winning all city voting districts. Myrick defeated Janis Kelly (Republican Party candidate), J. R. Clairborne (Independence Party candidate), and Wade Wykstra (Independent).
Tenure as Mayor (2012 – present)
Myrick became the City of Ithaca's youngest Mayor and first Mayor of color when he was sworn into office on January 1, 2012. When Myrick assumed office in January 2012, he inherited an anticipated $3 million to $3.5 million budget deficit in the City of Ithaca. His first budget, FY13, concentrated on maintaining city services while streamlining City Hall through merging departments, reducing management and adopting new technology systems to reduce city inefficiencies. While reducing financial obligations and increasing efficiency for the City of Ithaca, Myrick's first budget also prioritized increasing the wages of the City's lowest paid employees.
On May 2 – 3, 2013, Myrick participated in a conference about establishing more effective approaches to drug policy in New York held in Buffalo, NY, by the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) and DPA, which jointly released a Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety to Approach to Drug Policy. This new approach to drug policy was also discussed at a conference co-sponsored by DPA and Baldy Center for law and Social Policy called Leading the Way: Toward a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy in New York State.
On June 6, 2013, Myrick delivered the keynote address at the 13th Annual New York State Supportive Housing Conference, which address touched on race and his personal history of homelessness. On October 1, 2013, the City of Ithaca became a Certified Living Wage Employer. On December 5, 2013, Myrick participated in the White House Mayor’s Manufacturing Summit. Nearly 20 mayors from across the U.S. attended to meet with other local government leaders and share their concerns and ideas for manufacturing progress in their local communities.
By the end of Myrick's second year in office, half his term, the Mayor's adopted FY14 budget had successfully closed the deficit inherited in 2012, and brought about the lowest tax levy increase in over a decade. On November 25, 2014, Myrick was invited to the American Swiss Foundation’s Young Leaders Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, for discussions with high-level diplomatic, government, business, media, and cultural leaders.
On January 23, 2015, Myrick joined President Obama hosting more than 200 bipartisan Mayors during their annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting. Administration officials discussed ways in which to continue partnering with cities to raise wages and incomes, to strengthen the standing of working families in a new economy and to bolster and expand the middle class.
On August 15, 2015, Myrick was invited to join people from 180 countries in the conference of the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, for a meeting of the Global Shaper's Community to promote local change for global impact.
After nearly two years of research by the Municipal Drug Policy Committee formed in April 2014 by Myrick, on February 25, 2016, Ithaca proposed the implementation of the country’s first supervised heroin injection site. If implemented, the site would be breaking various laws unless Ithaca received a waiver from the governor and federal authorities.
The Ithaca Plan proposes the implementation of a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program (LEAD), in which police officers "divert people directly into the social service system" instead of perpetuating the revolving-door system of incarceration for low-level offenses. The Ithaca Plan: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drugs and Drug Policy has been two years in the making. The 64-page Ithaca Plan is centered on several tenets: prevention, treatment, law enforcement, harm reduction, governance and leadership. The LEAD pilot program has had success in Seattle, Washington where streets became safer after the plan’s implementation.
On April 19 and 22, 2013, Myrick joined forces with student organizers of the Youth Power Summit 2013 at Ithaca College Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise, a climate justice convergence for over 100 young people ages 16–23 from Tompkins County. He met with students to discuss divestment, and agreed to issue a statement from the city and explained his support for youth leadership, "I believe that young people have the creativity, energy, and moral authority that is needed in many of our public debates. A perfect example is the work this group has done. The commitment these young people have shown to safeguarding our environment should serve as an inspiration to us all."
Myrick is a son of Jessie and Leslie. He had asthma while in high school. Myrick has said that his father battled crack cocaine addiction, which helped inspire him to create the committee to confront the heroin problem.
Awards and honors
On December 10, 2014, Svante Myrick was named as a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and The Institute of Politics at Harvard University to honor Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service.
In 2016 Politico asked 71 mayors from all around the country to vote on mayors who were most likely to succeed and rate each other in a variety of categories. Svante Myrick received votes for most innovative, biggest turnaround and a mayor to “keep our eye on.”
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Carolyn K. Peterson
|Mayor of Ithaca, New York