Ithaca's mayor has been named to the NY leadership team of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

ITHACA, N.Y. — Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced Monday that her campaign leadership team for New York state includes Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.

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Myrick, a rising star in the Democratic Party, is joining the Clinton campaign amid substantial support in Tompkins County for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders has a three-to-one fundraising advantage over Clinton among residents in the 14850 zip code. But Myrick, Ithaca’s most prominent Democratic leader, will be backing Sanders’ opponent in the primary.

“I’m aware some people will be disappointed because they support Bernie Sanders, and I could see why they would support Bernie Sanders,” Myrick said in an interview, noting that “it’s the nature of politics” that some decisions would disappoint others.

“An endorsement is a very personal thing … I don’t think it weighed on me too much that this was Bernie Sanders country.”

Clinton announced Monday that her list of New York supporters includes Gov. Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Ithaca’s mayor has been named to the NY leadership team of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton
Ithaca’s mayor has been named to the NY leadership team of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

Myrick gave the following reasons for why he is planning on supporting Clinton over Sanders:

Continuing Obama’s legacy | Myrick said he wants to support the presidential candidate he thinks has the best chance of solidifying Obama’s achievements in office.

“I believe President Obama has been a truly transformational president, and I want to support a candidate I believe has the best chance to continue his legacy,” Myrick said.

Myrick said he thinks Clinton has a better chance of being elected in a general election than Bernie Sanders would.

Changing perceptions about women | Myrick said that Obama’s presidency “changed forever the perception of blackness in America.”

“He changed what was possible for my life, and he changed the way people look at me and he changed the way I felt when I walk in for a job interview or when I decided to run for office,” Myrick said of the president.

A similarly positive dynamic will be at play if Clinton is elected as the nation’s first female president, Myrick said.

“Half of the people in this country — my little sister included — have never had that ultimate figure of authority look like them,” he said. “I think a Clinton presidency would forever change the perception of women in this country.”

On skepticism about progressiveness | Myrick acknowledged that there’s skepticism locally about whether Clinton is progressive enough for some Democratic voters.

“I think both Senator Sanders’ and Secretary Clinton’s platforms are progressive, and to the left even of President Obama,” Myrick said.

Conveying her progressive bonafides — and convincing Ithaca residents that she’s worthy of their support — will therefore be a central mission of Myrick’s work for the former secretary of state.

Myrick noted, for instance, that Tompkins County was rare in New York State for rejecting Clinton in favor of Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. But this time around, Myrick said, Ithaca should be convinced that she is the best choice to represent their interests.

“That’s the largest reason I’m endorsing Secretary Clinton,” Myrick said. “… I think there’s a lot of work to do in Tompkins County.”

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Jeff Stein

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