Before last November’s special election, the residents of Collegetown—a district populated 97% by Cornell students—had been represented in the Ithaca Common Council by two Cornell students in every year since 2004. The Democratic Party is now looking to elect its second consecutive candidate with no ties whatsoever to the Cornell students that he would potentially represent.
The battleground is Ithaca’s 4th Ward, which encompasses most of Collegetown and parts of West Campus. Until this week, Council¬man Eddie Rooker ‘09 held the seat. Rooker, who had served the area since he was elected in 2009, recently announced his resignation to pursue a law degree at the New York University School of Law.
The outgoing councilman was a former president of the Inter-Fraternity Council and member of Sig¬ma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), and could often be seen around Collegetown, interacting with the students he represented even after his graduation. His presence as a link between the Cornell and Ithaca communities continued a long line of Cornell students becoming active in Ithaca politics—highlighted by fellow SAE brother Svante Myrick, who first joined the council in 2008.
It was recently announced that Stephen Smith would be the Democratic nominee, and on Monday the Cornell Review’s own Misha Checkovich ’13 announced that she would represent the Republicans.
The Democrat Stephen Smith is an alumnus of the State University of New York at Geneseo who has occupied his time since graduation by managing the campaigns of Democrats around the country, among other tasks.
This creates a match-up between a clear Collegetown outsider and a Collegetown insider that will have long-term implications on the character of Cornell’s center of student life.
“I want to run in order to affect common sense solutions to the problems facing the Collegetown community,” explained Checkovich, a History major who currently re¬sides on Stewart Ave. “I need your help to keep the seat in the hands of a Cornell student who understands the area.”
“I consider C-Town an integral part of the Cornell experience, and have been saddened by the deterioration of the housing and business environment,” she added. “I want to make this a more livable area, not just a place people come to because they were pushed out by trends in campus policies in housing and Greek life. Unfortunately, there are a lot of entrenched interests that have created byzantine regulations that do not make sense in the 21st century.”
Checkovich’s candidacy continues the trend of student engagement that has ensured Collegetown’s exceptional and responsive representation in Ithaca politics.
Alfonse Muglia is a junior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.