Rochester native Stephen Smith was chosen to fill as interim City of Ithaca 4th Ward alderman on the Common Council after Eddie Rooker left the position earlier this fall. After a few short months in office, Smith is running against Cornell University student and Republican Misha Checkovich to reclaim the seat in November and serve for a year in the position before running again for a full four-year term.
He also works as Democrat Congressional candidate Nate Shinagawa’s campaign finance director and has helped with Mayor Svante Myrick’s campaign and Pam Mackesey’s State Senate campaign in 2010.
Since Smith took on the 4th Ward position, he said his main goal is to connect with both college students and local residents in the Collegetown area. Ithaca Now spoke with Smith about his plans for the 4th Ward in the City of Ithaca.
Smith on the City’s proposal for the Collegetown Crossing apartments, affordable housing and parking in the 4th Ward:
“Right now, we’re seeing less and less students are being cars to college their freshman year. What we need to do is build for a future where there are less cars on the road, instead of building for a past where we had more cars and really demanding for those parking spaces. It really raises the cost of rent when landlords have to set aside property for parking spaces. That’s space that they can’t put into apartments, that’s space that they can’t put into a bigger building, and they have to make up for that revenue somehow. It ends up leading our costs for rent. I think this particular project is a good idea. I think that the parking requirement… we should consider waiving it and look at the impact in the neighborhood and see if it’s something we’d be able to accomplish. It also brings a grocery store to Collegetown, which is huge. You could consider Collegetown a food desert pretty much right now.”
On Mayor Svante Myrick’s proposed 2013 budget:
This is another example of the Mayor fulfilling campaign promises. He wants to make the City leaner. He wants to make it more efficient. He wants to reduce the costs, because right now, residents in the City are just paying too much in taxes. We as renters in Collegetown are paying for those increases in taxes. With this budget in particular, he did walk in with a $3 million gap, and I think he’s done a pretty good job of balancing cuts in revenue increases to fill that gap. Right now with the fire department in particular, those two positions he’s looking to eliminate are what you would call offline firefighters. They spend most of their time doing building inspections for fire safety. One of the things that the Mayor is doing to make the City more efficient is instead of having your building inspection department and your fire department doing separate inspections, you can combine those in one house. You can have your building inspectors trained for fire inspections and have them do it all at once.”