Nonetheless acclimating to varsity life, there are a lot of priorities that is likely to be top-of-mind for a Cornell first-year pupil. Working for elected workplace just isn’t often considered one of them.
Nonetheless, that is precisely what Clyde Lederman ’26, a first-year pupil within the College of Industrial and Labor Relations, is pursuing. Lederman had simply completed his first semester on the College when he launched his marketing campaign for Ithaca Widespread Council alderperson.
Lederman — who’s working as a Democrat — has his eyes on a two-year seat representing Ithaca’s fifth ward, first saying his plans final December. On campus, Lederman is concerned with the Cornell Jail Training Program and is the clerk for the Workplace of the Assemblies.
“I made a decision to run [for a seat on Ithaca Common Council] as a result of college students in Ithaca deserve an alderperson who will battle for inexpensive housing and high quality public transportation,” Lederman wrote in a December Fb submit saying his candidacy.
The fifth ward represents North Campus and the Cornell Heights space, together with a lot of College Hill. If elected, Lederman would turn into the youngest member of the Widespread Council at simply 19 years previous.
Lederman formally launched his marketing campaign on Sunday, Jan. 8, with a fundraiser in his hometown of Nyack, New York. He was joined by former Congressman Mondaire Jones, additionally a Nyack native, who Lederman had volunteered for in 2020.
Lederman credited his upbringing for his early curiosity in politics and labor relations.
“I’ve at all times had a political orientation. That comes from my household and the way I grew up,” Lederman mentioned. “My mom, she’s a fourth-generation union member.”
This political consciousness was solely made extra acute by disputes Lederman witnessed rising up in Rockland County — from disputes involving the East Ramapo Central College District to zoning points in the neighborhood.
Lederman mentioned he first thought of working for Widespread Council following disputes over TCAT funding final December.
“I bear in mind specifically when Cornell turned down the funding improve [for TCAT], which was one thing like $75,000,” Lederman mentioned. “And to me, that was an actual wake-up name.”
Lederman is referring to the College’s denial of an 8 p.c improve in funding to TCAT, for which the College cited an absence of “any particular justification for such a big improve.”
Lederman additionally highlighted points with the TCAT system, from delays to service cuts, which he famous make it troublesome for a lot of Ithaca residents to get to work.
“[TCAT] just isn’t sustainable,” Lederman mentioned. “I believe it’s about growing funding in order that we will cut back headways within the routes so buses run extra incessantly.”
Along with TCAT funding, Lederman mentioned he’s additionally centered on housing and the “Make Cornell Pay” marketing campaign as key points.
Lederman mentioned Ithaca’s housing scarcity has had detrimental impacts on everlasting residents.
“[From 2010 to 2021, Ithaca’s population] grew in uncooked numbers, which is a rise in college students. [But] we truly misplaced a whole lot of everlasting residents. And that’s actually damaging,” Lederman mentioned. “Individuals shouldn’t have to depart the place they stay their complete lives as a result of it’s turn into simply too costly.”
Lederman has proposed accent dwelling models to enhance Ithaca’s low one p.c rental emptiness fee.
“[Accessory dwelling units] are the chance to create zoning permissions that might permit anybody to show [a space] like a storage, basement or attic into a further unit,” Lederman mentioned. “They’ve carried out this in California and it’s been actually profitable in growing the housing inventory.”
Lederman acknowledges that ADUs usually are not an ideal answer, as an alternative calling for a constellation of insurance policies to extend the housing inventory.
However the College’s function additionally got here up within the dialogue over Ithaca’s housing provide, with Lederman believing the College has an obligation to supply enough housing choices.
As for the ‘Make Cornell Pay’ Marketing campaign, the College’s contribution to the Metropolis of Ithaca has been certain by an settlement in place by way of 2024, that means negotiations can be on the desk inside Lederman’s time period. The settlement, permitted in 2003, has the College contributing about $1.575 million on this last 12 months — a majority of which works in direction of the Ithaca Hearth Division.
Pupil voters are of explicit curiosity within the fifth ward, as redrawn wards have left the ward with a 90 to 95 p.c pupil inhabitants. Nonetheless, pupil voting stays a hurdle, particularly with the Democratic major happening on Tuesday, June 27 — when most Cornellians usually are not on campus.
“Not a whole lot of college students are registered to vote right here, [so] a giant a part of my marketing campaign is getting individuals registered,” Lederman mentioned. “Prior to now, you’ve seen candidates elected with one-half of 1 p.c of the full inhabitants casting a poll for that candidate. And to me, that’s an issue — that’s probably not democratic.”
To Lederman, the short-term nature of the coed inhabitants doesn’t low cost their significance in native affairs.
“College students are a transient inhabitants with everlasting pursuits. So college students now, college students 5 years in the past, nonetheless cared in regards to the bus, they nonetheless care in regards to the value of housing,” Lederman mentioned. “I believe if we took adults, they usually lived in any metropolis for 2 to 3 years in a row, we wouldn’t say, ‘You don’t should vote, you shouldn’t care.’ That’s probably not honest, and that’s not an affordable strategy.”
Nonetheless, as a 19-year-old that has solely lived in Ithaca for about 9 months, Lederman acknowledges issues over his potential inexperience. However he emphasizes his personal lived expertise in Ithaca and his many conversations with residents.
“I believe my curiosity in enhancing the neighborhood is real. I do know what it means to attend within the Commons and there’s not a bus for an hour,” Lederman mentioned. “And that impacts the lives of so many various people.”
Lederman described that he has made a concerted effort to speak to the residents of the ward he hopes to symbolize.
“I’ve knocked on, if I needed to guess, 80 p.c of the doorways in Cornell Heights, specifically,” Lederman mentioned. “[I’m] persevering with to achieve out to all of the residents as a result of I believe people who make certain they speak to everybody are those who’re type of greatest in a position to navigate the nuanced and difficult points we have now.”
The alderperson seat is at present held by Robert Cantelmo grad, a Ph.D. candidate in authorities at Cornell. With Cantelmo setting his sights on a mayoral bid, a possibility on the council opened up.
Lederman shall be up towards Democrat Jason Houghton, an info expertise product supervisor at PNC Financial institution. Like Lederman, inexpensive housing is a major concern for Houghton, as reported by The Ithaca Instances.
The seat comes with a wage of about $13,000, which Lederman says shall be spent on his Cornell housing and tuition charges amongst different prices.
Lederman has already been endorsed by the New York Working Households Celebration and can stay in Ithaca over the summer season. With the Democratic major two months away, the race is simply getting began.
Iskander Khan ’26 is a Solar contributor and may be reached at [email protected].
Correction, April 24, 11:53 p.m.: A earlier model of this text incorrectly said that Lederman is the meeting supervisor for the Workplace of the Assemblies. The article has been corrected to mirror that he’s the clerk for the Meeting.