ITHACA, N.Y.—Margaret Fabrizio has announced her candidacy for the four-year term representing Ithaca’s Fifth Ward on Common Council.
Fabrizio becomes the first candidate to publicly declare for the four-year term, though Cornell student Clyde Lederman has declared his candidacy for the two-year term (each ward has a four-year and two-year seat). In the latest redistricting, the Fifth Ward now includes Cascadilla Park, Cornell Heights, Cornell’s north campus, etc.
Fabrizio, who also goes by Margherita, said she is running because she believes that if Ithaca wants to achieve its goals, like becoming an affordable, equitable and unique place and more specific ideas like the Green New Deal, consistently increasing taxes on city residents isn’t a sustainable way to do it.
“There are too few of us to accomplish all we need to do and want to be,” she said. “We need new partners and new revenue streams. Research, advocacy, thinking outside the box, and building alliances have been constant themes throughout my life and I think these will be useful skills for the issues that Common Council must grapple with.”
Bolstering her campaign, Fabrizio just published a cover story in The Ithaca Times covering Cornell University’s oft-maligned tax-exempt status, meaning the city’s ability to profit off of the school is severely mitigated. After the story, Fabrizio founded the “Fair Share Campaign,” which is “dedicated to making Ithaca more affordable by seeking equitable compensation through a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for essential community services provided to Cornell University and its 25,000+ students and faculty.”
Having lived in the area for over 40 years, Fabrizio has been involved with a litany of local entities. She worked for Cornell University for over three decades before retiring, and also previously managed the Ithaca City Prosecutor’s office. Fabrizio said she also has been involved in Ithaca Falls matters, including advocating for environmental clean-up of the falls and the nearby polluted former Ithaca Gun site, as well as helping with development protections there and elsewhere in Fall Creek.
The campaign announcement includes Fabrizio’s ideas for a student advisory board that would be tasked with finding ways both the city and students can benefit from each other. That may coincide with her proposal, also included, of creating a “city-wide neighborhood association” that she hopes would foster engagement among residents, particularly with matters before Common Council.
Fabrizio conceded that Cornell does contribute to both the city and the county, particularly as a resilient economic driver. But the school’s tax situation means that its annual donation to the city is not nearly enough to make up for the size of the tax bill the city is missing out on. She mentions that examples of the resulting struggles can be seen in the city’s struggle to pay workers competitive wages.
“Ithaca’s unaffordability has reached a breaking point,” Fabrizio said. “We are all negatively impacted whether students, renters, property owners, landlords, single parents, young families, or retirees. Ithaca is under-resourced, which not only means rents and taxes are outrageously high and potholes big, it means we can’t afford the cost of being visionary either.”