ITHACA N.Y.—Former Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick endorsed current Alderperson Robert Gesualdo Cantelmo in his mayoral run, as well as Aryeal Jackson, who is running for the two-year Second Ward seat on Common Council. Both are running as Democrats.
Cantelmo has represented the Fifth Ward, which includes Fall Creek and Cornell Heights, since he was elected in 2021. He announced his bid for mayor in January 2023 and is running uncontested for the Democratic nomination. Janis Kelly is the only other mayoral competitor officially in the race at this point, running as a Republican.
Cantelmo is chair of the City Administration Committee and served on the city’s Committee on Reimagining Public Safety. He works as the associate director for the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell.
Myrick announced his endorsement of Cantelmo for mayor via a tweet May 6.
“In the time he’s been on Council, he’s proven himself a natural leader and effective legislator who listens and brings people together,” Myrick wrote in the tweet. “I can’t think of anyone better suited to lead our city through this time of transition.”
Cantelmo is running to be the first mayor after the City Manager role is implemented, a conversion that will significantly change the leadership structure of the city. Myrick, late in his final term, had pushed the change as a necessary switch for Ithaca and it was approved via referendum last year.
Jackson, a community and political organizer and business owner, ran for Common Council once before in 2017. She lost to current Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis during that race, then served as the chair of the city’s Public Safety and Information Commission for a time.
She announced her second bid for the two-year term on the Common Council, representing Ithaca’s Second Ward, in March 2023 and is facing incumbent Kris Haines-Sharp and West Fox in the Democratic primary, which is being held June 27. Jackson added two other endorsements from large local political figures, from Tompkins County Legislator Travis Brooks and outgoing First Ward Common Council representative George McGonigal, who both credited her knowledge of and involvement with city government, and a willingness to disagree strongly but discuss cordially.
Jackson announced the endorsements in a written statement June 5, where Myrick said he was “thrilled” to endorse Jackson. He cited her character and past work as a journalist to attest to her character.
“As a journalist, she’s always honest and thorough,” Myrick said in the statement. “As a citizen, she always shows up for her neighbors and follows through. And as an entrepreneur, she knows how to get the job done.”
Myrick made history when he was sworn into office in January 2012 as Ithaca’s 44th mayor. He became New York State’s, and Ithaca’s, youngest mayor in history, and also Ithaca’s first Black mayor. He stepped down in February 2022, after the longest mayoral term in the city’s history, to take a position as Executive Director of People for the American Way (PFAW), where he is now president and CEO.
“Aryeal can knowingly explain and advocate for complex issues relating to Ithaca’s governance,” McGonigal said in the statement. “I am confident that she can bring a positive voice to City Hall that will help improve morale amongst City staff, and that she will support better wages across City departments. And Aryeal will do these things from a perspective that is her own, a perspective that is different and welcome.”