Phoebe Brown, a long-time community activist in Ithaca, is running for mayor

ITHACA, N.Y. — Long-time activist Phoebe Brown has announced that she is running for mayor of the City of Ithaca as a write-in candidate.

[do_widget id= text-55 ]

Brown, a community outreach liaison for the Cayuga Medical Center, says she largely supports Mayor Svante Myrick — who is running for re-election — and expects him to win.

But in an interview on Wednesday, Brown also stressed the importance of having a dialogue about changes in the city of Ithaca and worried that this conversation would be less likely to happen if Myrick ran unopposed.

“I really like Svante and see some stuff he did well, but I just don’t see that voice I want to be heard. This will give us an opportunity to talk,” she said.

“… I doubt very seriously I will win, and I want (Myrick) to win, truthfully. But I also want people to not just say, ‘Okay, that’s it.’ That’s not the way our system is supposed to be set up.”

Phoebe Brown, a long-time community activist in Ithaca, is running for mayor

Brown cited her work in organizing Black Lives Matter events in Ithaca and an upcoming joint barbecue between the Ithaca Police Department and the community. She said that she has been an activist in Ithaca ever since she arrived here on a bus 23 years ago.

“Our system was built to help people of every income bracket, and there have been many of us left out for a very long time,” Brown said. “For me, it’s scary to do this. But I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to go for it.’”

Asked where she would substantively differ from the mayor, Brown said she thought Myrick had done too much to make Ithaca “a tourist place” and cited a lack of new affordable housing for low-income residents. (Myrick has been a leading proponent of several major new affordable housing projects, sometimes over the strenuous opposition of Common Council members and neighborhood residents.)

Brown also said she would like to see more transparency out of City Hall and suggested that the money used to fund the Commons renovation would have been better spent on affordable housing.

Ultimately, she mostly downplayed the policy differences between her and Myrick — and emphasized that her candidacy primarily represents a chance for greater dialogue about the issues facing the city and a voice for those often disenfranchised in city politics.

“The bottom line is: I’m doing this to inspire people more than to become mayor,” Brown said. “This will give the community an opportunity to ask questions of the mayor.”

[do_widget id= text-61 ]

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.