ITHACA, N.Y.—One of the trio of Solidary Slate candidates has announced that she is dropping out of the race for Common Council, as Shaniya Foster confirmed to the Ithaca Voice that she will not seek the seat representing Ithaca’s First Ward.
Foster had announced her challenge to incumbent Cynthia Brock as part of the Solidarity Slate, looking to push a more openly leftist policy platform built on racial justice and system overhauls, but personal considerations have left Foster unable to dedicate herself as she had wanted. Brock is still facing another challenge from local activist Yasmin Rashid, though Rashid and Foster both did not show up to Monday’s candidate forum. Early voting in the Common Council primary races starts on June 12.
A single mother of three children, Foster cited her desire to move her family out of their current housing situation in West Hill as one factor in her decision, particularly since that area of the city is difficult to live in if one doesn’t want to rent in one of the two main apartment complexes.
“My struggle was I wanted to get out of West Hill,” Foster said. “I’m ready to get out of there, but it’s so hard. I was preaching about stuff that I could relate to, that I’m living. (…) So I was in a situation where I wanted to get out, but the problem was I would have to be in that ward [in order to serve on Common Council]. In West Hill, it’s basically like West Village and Chestnut and then everybody owns their own homes. There’s not a lot of leeway.”
Foster’s candidacy was also interrupted by the death of her father in April. That placed an even greater strain on Foster and her family, who are in the midst of starting their own soul food restaurant, Nu Spice Catering, in Ithaca.
Part of the Solidarity Slate’s ethos is that any single candidate is secondary to the actual policies, meaning that candidates are theoretically interchangeable since they share the core beliefs. Foster said that was part of the reason she did not announce her exit from the race earlier, as she and the organizers behind the Solidary Slate movement had to choose a replacement candidate.
“We had to get a consensus vote,” Foster said, though she wouldn’t name the successor candidate yet though they have received the requisite number of signatures to be on the ballot as an independent candidate in the general election. “The person wants to get a little more validation, we’re just trying to figure it out. (…) Even though I’m not running, we still got the word out, and a lot of people are still supporting. It had a huge impact on my life, and even though I’m stepping down I still want to be out in the community and representing these policies.”