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Ithaca Common Council candidates make their case at forum

West Fox delivers an opening statement at a forum for Ithaca Common Council candidates Thursday.
Vaughn Golden
West Fox delivers an opening statement at a forum for Ithaca Common Council candidates Thursday.

Democratic candidates running for the Ithaca Common Council are contesting races in most of the wards of the city this year. Many of the candidates seeking open seats made their case to voters at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Thursday.

This month’s primary will determine most of the races in the predominantly Democratic city, with the major factor separating many of the candidates being the focus of policies they want to enact if elected.

West Fox is one of the candidates running as part of the Ithaca Solidarity Slate, a group of progressive-leaning candidates, some of which are declared socialists.

Fox said the city must take advantage of its progressive tilt to enact policies heavily regulating housing and rentals, among other things.

"It's not a secret that time and again well-meaning progressives enter into politics only to be cowered," Fox said. "I just would like to say again that we're running because we imagine Ithaca for the many, not the few."

Candidates like Fox are facing opposition from Democrats focused more on day-to-day governance issues and financial management of city hall. They include Aryeal Jackson who is running in the second ward.

“We can't move forward without hindsight or a plan to recover, but we must do it with an informed community and a capable common council," Jackson said. "It's imperative that we elect people who can handle the work on day one."

The mayor’s office is also up for election this year, the first election under a new structure of city government diminishing the responsibilities of the role. Current Alderman Robert Cantelmo is the only Democrat running for mayor.

Early voting begins June 17. Primary day is June 27.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.