This is a letter to the editor from the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County regarding the departure of Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres from his position with the City of Ithaca. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, please send them to Matt Butler at mbutler@ithacavoice.com.

As Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres steps down from his position as Director of Sustainability for the City of Ithaca, the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County would like to publicly thank him for his work in our community, and draw attention to the important milestones achieved for the Ithaca Green New Deal during his time as director. In doing so, the LCA also feels a responsibility to share our collective concern about a pattern of disenfranchisement that has arisen in recent months in local government and leadership, particularly in regards to leaders of color. 

Dr. Aguirre-Torres’ departure, which he has openly indicated was in part due to a lack of internal support from city government, is one of two recent instances of Black and Latinx-led local city projects impacted by systemic obstruction, the other instance being the widely condemned ethics investigation brought against Eric Rosario and Karen Yearwood in their roles as co-leaders of the Reimagining Public Safety Working Group. In a community where there are already limited city leadership positions filled by people of color, this suggests a disturbing trend. Both the IGND and the Reimagining Public Safety project are tasked by signed resolutions (June 17, 2019) and gubernatorial executive orders (June 12, 2020) respectively to center the experiences and voices of marginalized peoples in Ithaca, many of whom are Black and Latinx — and both projects are facing, at best, a lack of critical support from the very entities that voted in favor of this commitment at the onset.

Ithaca has made notable strides in policy towards protecting those in our community most vulnerable to climate change, and those most at risk of being unjustly targeted by law enforcement. However, we will lose that progress much more rapidly than the time it took to achieve it if the City fails to support our leaders from those very circles in our community, and the projects that are designed to empower and protect the individuals and families in our city who have been historically neglected. We call on city leadership to dig deep and find the courage to reexamine and recommit to the assurances they have made to the people of Ithaca.

Signed,
Patricia Fernández de Castro – President
Eva López – ​Vice-President
Fernando de Aragón – Treasurer
Francia Wallace – Secretary
Azucena Campos López
Julia de Aragón
Enrique González Conty
Víctor Rosa