ITHACA, N.Y. — Earlier this week, Isabelle M. Ramos announced that she would be seeking to represent Ithaca’s Second Ward on the Common Council.
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Ramos is running in the Democratic primary against Ducson Nguyen, a local software engineer who also recently declared his candidacy.
J.R. Clairborne, who currently holds the Second Ward seat, is not seeking re-election.
Here are the 7 questions we asked Ramos in an interview on Tuesday; click on the one you’re interested in to see his answer, or read the entire story in order.
To read Nguyen’s responses to the same questions, see here.
(Did we miss your question? If so, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
1 – What’s your top priority for Council?
2 – What do you think think of how the city has handled the Commons construction project?
3 – Do you support the controversial 210 Hancock Street building proposal? If so, why?
4 – Do you think an 11-story building is appropriate for the Trebloc site in downtown Ithaca?
5 – What do you think of 1) dogs on the Commons and 2) chickens in the home?
6 – What in your background qualifies you for the post? Why are you a good candidate?
7 – What’s your ideal Friday night in Ithaca, and why?
1 — Thanks for speaking with us. What’s your top priority for Council?
IR: “Offering excellent constituent services — so having regular communication with constituents, especially those who come to city Council meetings and express their concerns.
“To actually build trust and be accountable – that’s my top priority as an alderperson.”
2 — What do you think think of how the city has handled the Commons construction project?
IR: “Well, outside looking in I would say that the city failed to identify potential issues that involved NYSEG and other aspects of the project – including, obviously, the timeline, the impact on small businesses, the impact on pedestrian traffic and safety and also the very obvious oversight about the size of the Ithaca Commons sign being out of scale with the rest of the signage.”
“I think the devil is in the details, as they say, and I feel like this was a big learning experience for the city — but that with my background being able to focus on those details it will help me help the city be more efficient.”
3 — Do you support the controversial INHS 210 Hancock Street building proposal? If so, why?
IR: “I do support it, because — number one, I think INHS and the fact that it’s a mixed-use development project and that they are welcoming input from community members — that’s a good way to come to the table with an open mind and be willing to address their plan accordingly.
“Obviously, we live in a very passionate and vocal community, and so this is going to be a process, and I feel that this is going about it in the right way, that public comment is the right way to hear pros and cons. And I think that it will be a good case study for other development projects that come to the table to see, ‘Is this property going to be sustainable? How is the community going to change? How is the environment going to be impacted?’ It looks good and I think it will be a great learning experience for the whole city.”
4 — Do you think an 11-story building is appropriate for the Trebloc site in downtown Ithaca?
IR: “Well, at first glance the project proposal on its face seemed a bit excessive; however, I feel that there are a lot of benefits that could come with having that type of structure in that location at the Trebloc site.
“It would be a huge change, but I think it could have a really positive impact for the downtown culture and for the city’s economy … it would mean bringing in new community members that can contribute to the liveliness of the Commons; it would hopefully bring in more money to businesses and restaurants within the downtown area and especially the Second Ward, which is a plus — and with more revenue, the city could then focus on improving the infrastructure, including potholes and sidewalks within the Second Ward …
“That being said about the benefits, I would be equally concerned about the negative impacts as far as traffic congestion (is concerned). I ride the TCAT bus and already it’s been a challenge commuting in that area because of the Marriott construction — so while it sounds like a great idea, it sounds like a big headache as well.”
5 — What do you think of 1) dogs on the Commons and 2) chickens in the home?
IR: “So, dogs on the Commons. I know for purposes of liability it’s in the city’s best interest to be thoughtful … about permitting people to bring dogs in the Commons … I am definitely pro pets, but I am also pro safety, and they dont have to be exclusive. And I can see how for purposes of liability the city would need to stay firm on not allowing dogs — but within an hour of walking the Commons I saw 5 dogs with their owners being walked. So you don’t necessarily want to have laws no one is going to follow, either, so I’d be open to reviewing where the city’s policies stand there.
“And on that same note, if we were to keep the current policy of not having dogs on the Commons I would advocate for the city to create another space … some dog-friendly areas near the Commons.
“And chickens. I love chickens; I eat chickens. (But) I feel like there are certain health risks that can come with maintaining chicken coups and I would want to really un
6 — What in your background qualifies you for the post? Why are you a good candidate?
IR: “I would say the thing that qualifies me the post is my education — in my undergraduate studies, with a focus on ethics; that is important to me and not just passing a law but passing good laws that serve the people.
That education and that principle I believe qualifies me, I believe, for being a Second Ward alderperson.”
7 — What’s your ideal Friday night in Ithaca, and why?
IR: “I could talk about lots of great Friday nights, but I’ll stick with something I do pretty common: an early evening bike ride around Cass Park, then returning to my residence and making a home-cooked meal — hopefully with local friends I can entertain, and then popping into the Congo Street Market near the Southside Community Center, getting some cool entertainment and bouncing around the different venues downtown for the remainder of the evening.”