ITHACA, N.Y.—For the first time in 13 months, Ithaca has a fully seated Common Council.

Kris Haines-Sharp was unanimously approved without debate by her now-colleagues on Common Council at their meeting Wednesday night, filling Mayor Laura Lewis’ Fifth Ward seat that became vacant when Lewis was sworn in as mayor in December. Before then, as acting mayor since February 2022, Lewis had a hybrid role of sorts, maintaining a vote on council.

Haines-Sharp, an educator who used to be the assistant principal at New Roots Charter School, beat out a field of seven other candidates for the appointment. Her recommendation was made by a committee that interviewed each of the applicants. The interviews were not publicized beforehand, but were recorded and posted to YouTube afterwards—Haines-Sharp’s interview can be seen here.

“I see the role of alderperson as a representative for the neighborhood and the ward from which that person comes from,” she said during her interview in a response to a question about what she views as the duties of the position. “My role would be to represent the constituents in Ward Five, their concerns, their issues that they’re bringing forth, and also to relay information back as appropriate.”

During the interview, she named fiscal limitations as one of the primary difficulties facing the city currently, as well as filling the positions of police chief and fire chief and the ongoing strife between the city government and its employees. She said she would bring “effective communication and collaboration” with other council members, constituents and other involved parties to the role.

Haines-Sharp’s term will only last through the end of the year—the Fifth Ward seat will be subject to an election in November 2023, as will all Common Council seats as happens each decade after the Census is published and districts are realigned.

Before Haines-Sharp’s approval, Alderperson Rob Gearhart made the lone comment during the meeting, thanking the other candidates and the community for showing such robust interest in the position. Gearhart served on the vacancy committee, as did Lewis and Alderperson Robert Cantelmo.

“I just wanted to offer my appreciation that we did see such a strong application pool from the current Fifth Ward, and very happy to have participated in making this recommendation,” he said.

The selection could be the last of its kind, as Cantelmo will soon introduce legislation to reform the vacancy selection process.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at