Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca Common Council member George McGonigal says he is “95 percent sure” he will seek reelection to represent the city’s First Ward.
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“I enjoy it,” says McGonigal, whose full-time job is running a lawn-mowing business in Ithaca. “I enjoy my colleagues on Council; I enjoy working with city staff, and getting to know the people of the First Ward.”
McGonigal, who was first elected two years ago, would be seeking a four year term. In a broad-ranging interview with the Ithaca Voice on Friday, he touched on a number of reasons to seek reelection, including why he thinks his time on Council puts him in a good position for a second term.
“I know more how things play out, and I think that can make me a better advocate for my constituents,” McGonigal says.
Here are a few other things McGonigal mentioned in connection with his reelection bid:
Focus on infrastructure: McGonigal
“I think we should resist being distracted by what I call dessert projects: Things that are really nice but not essential,” he said.
Asked for an example, he cited proposed improvements for the natural area at Ithaca Falls. He said that he thought the current proposals — which include a loop of two sidewalks and a gate — represent a lot more than is necessary to achieve safety and ADA access.
Quality of life in Ithaca’s West Village: McGonigal said he hopes to encourage the Ithaca police to make more face-to-face connections with the residents of Ithaca’s West Village Apartments, which has been troubled at times by crime.
He also spoke of a desire to restore an outside basketball court to LACS, which he said would be an improvement for kids throughout West Hill, including West Village. Additionally, he expressed a desire to work with the owners of West Village to improve the neighborhood’s quality of life.
“We need to talk to owners of West Village and get them to be more discerning about who they let live there,” he said.
Stone Quarry Apartments: McGonigal and Common Council member Cynthia Brock, both of the first ward, tried limiting a proposed affordable housing complex on Ithaca’s Spencer Road.
The project was approved, “but I think it was a valiant effort” in getting the city to do more to listen to the area’s residents, McGonigal says.
Hiring local construction workers: As he has at several Council meetings, McGonigal stressed the importance of trying to get local construction workers employed by some of the big developments going on in Ithaca.
“There’s a lot of excellent trade people in this town, and their training is first rate,” he says, “but electricians right now are 20% unemployed (in Ithaca).”
He said he and several other Council members — including JR Clairborne, Seph Murtagh and Brock — were working on the issue.
“We need to find a way to connect these local trades with these big development projects,” he says. “I don’t pretend to know how to do that, but we’re working on it.”