The following is a republished press release from the City of Ithaca and NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements directly to The Voice, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ITHACA, NY– Mayor Svante Myrick announced today the appointment of former District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson to the position of Interim Drug Policy Coordinator, a cornerstone role in the city of Ithaca’s municipal drug strategy program.
“We are thrilled to have Gwen coordinating the initial implementation efforts of The Ithaca Plan. As the co-chair of the committee that developed the Plan, she is in an excellent position to begin the process of making the work of two years, and over 350 Ithacans, a reality,” said the Mayor.
Gwen Wilkinson’s appointment underscores the type of strong and principled municipal leadership that Mayor Myrick and the city of Ithaca are advancing in the face of the opioid overdose epidemic—now the leading cause of accidental death both statewide and nationally. As part of her role as Interim Drug Policy Coordinator, Wilkinson will work to advance the groundbreaking recommendations in The Ithaca Plan and provide an annual report on her office’s policy engagement.
The former District Attorney said, “I am honored to take on this work. As a community and a nation we are facing a public health crisis of unprecedented scope, and it is up to us at the grassroots level to lead the way to safer and more effective drug policy.” Wilkinson served as the Tompkins County District Attorney from 2006 to 2016 and was the co-chair of Municipal Drug Policy Committee (MDPC), which formulated the Ithaca Plan based on consultations with community members and stakeholders, including elected officials, government officials, policymakers, and service providers; literature reviews; and policy analyses.
Based on a year-long process involving a wide array of stakeholders ranging from the Police Chief and treatment providers to people who use drugs and parents, The Ithaca Plan: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drugs and Drug Policy, marks a radical departure from punitive responses to drugs rooted in law enforcement that characterize much of U.S. drug policy. The Ithaca Plan instead focuses on public health, economic development, and harm reduction, including expanding access to medication assisted treatments, such as methadone and buprenorphine; increasing youth employment programs; and opening the nation’s first supervised injection facility.
Safe injection facilities—spearheaded in Switzerland in the 1980s and now numbering more than 100 sites worldwide—have been shown to sharply reduce fatal overdoses as well as reduce HIV and viral hepatitis transmission and public disorder.