Kayla Matos (D-First Ward), deputy director for Southside Group Middle, will face twelve-year incumbent Alderperson Cynthia Brock (D-First Ward) — who’s now operating on the Ithacans for Progress line — within the race for the First Ward’s four-year seat, simply 4 months after Matos overcame Brock within the June 27 Democratic primaries.
In an interview with The Solar, Matos stated that her expertise requesting metropolis funding for the middle was the explanation she determined to run.
“The town usually offers us $200,000 [per year], so final yr I made a decision to go to town and ask for a rise to our funds,” Matos stated. “When doing so, the remedy that I obtained and the best way that I used to be listening to councilmembers discuss in regards to the neighborhood heart made me uncomfortable.”
Southside Group Middle, which has been in operation since 1927, empowers and provides assets for the Black neighborhood in Ithaca. In line with their web site, the middle affords packages together with reasonably priced after college childcare, a meals pantry, a pet clinic — which companions with Cornell’s School of Veterinary Drugs — and academic assets for kids and adults. Matos says that organizations like Southside fill a significant position in addressing the big selection of points Ithacans face, together with meals insecurity.
“Only a few weeks in the past, anyone I went to highschool with obtained locked up. I see him across the neighborhood quite a bit, so when he was launched, I requested him what occurred,” Matos stated. “He stated that he had the cops known as on him as a result of he was stealing meals from the fuel station, so he did somewhat little bit of time. I checked out him, and my response was, ‘Subsequent time you’re hungry, simply come to the Southside Group Middle. I’ll get you meals.’”
Matos stated she feels the Widespread Council doesn’t do sufficient to help the work of neighborhood organizations.
“I’m actually advocating for stronger metropolis help with non-profits or neighborhood organizations which might be doing the on a regular basis groundwork to assist our neighborhood be a greater place, and that would come with organizations like OAR, REACH and No Más Lágrimas,” Matos stated.
Matos stated that the homeless encampments on the West Finish are among the many most urgent points dealing with the First Ward. She praised the Widespread Council’s new plan to introduce facilities akin to bogs and showers to the encampments, however she additionally stated she thinks extra ought to be executed to make residing circumstances extra humane for these experiencing homelessness and to deal with public security considerations.
“One of many first ways in which we begin decreasing crime is offering the assets that these within the encampments want [through policy], however I additionally assume that we want case employees and organizations which might be working with them straight, like REACH, to be in there and be capable of present assets,” Matos stated.
Matos additionally famous the just lately permitted memorandum of understanding between the College and the Metropolis of Ithaca. Brock was the one member of the Widespread Council to vote towards the brand new 15-year MOU, which units Cornell’s contribution to town funds at $4 million and can yearly alter the contribution for inflation.
“The deal is way improved from the place we began, so I’m grateful for that and the work of the neighborhood and my colleagues to assist us get what now we have proper now,” Brock stated in an Oct. 11 interview with The Solar. “However I do assume that it is a deal accepted below duress and we didn’t have any selection however to simply accept it.”
Like Brock, Matos stays essential of Cornell’s monetary contributions to the Metropolis of Ithaca, however she is optimistic in regards to the current settlement and Cornell’s potential to help town by different means.
“I’m actually glad that we had been in a position to get a rise [in Cornell’s contribution to the City of Ithaca],” Matos stated. “I’d have liked to see a shorter-term contract, however now we have to start out someplace and create room for dialogue.”
Matos stated Cornell college students and professors have labored with Southside Group Middle to develop infrastructure and insurance policies that reply to the rising hazard of flooding. She sees profiting from the assets and specialised data that Cornell has to supply as an avenue for fixing troublesome issues that the neighborhood faces.
“I feel that is one other inventive method that we begin roping Cornell into these conversations on enhancing our neighborhood as a result of clearly they’re not going to need to pay out of pocket,” Matos stated. “They made that very clear by the MOU negotiations.”
Matos can also be a proponent of accelerating reasonably priced and multifamily housing in Ithaca. She attributes lots of the issues Ithaca households and full-time residents face in searching for reasonably priced housing to the market’s catering to town’s massive scholar inhabitants.
“Loads of our housing market is geared in the direction of our faculty college students,” Matos stated. “Loads of homes are marketed room-by-room as an alternative of as a whole home, which is affecting our households who’re renters.”
Matos stated if elected, she’s going to try to re-examine town’s zoning insurance policies to accommodate extra reasonably priced housing, notably for working households who’re dealing with more and more burdensome lease prices, gentrification and displacement.
As a lifelong Ithaca resident, the problems that outline Matos’ platform aren’t simply political, but additionally private. Having skilled the impacts of Ithaca’s affordability challenges firsthand, Matos hopes to contribute a perspective to the Widespread Council that aligns with the pursuits of her working-class constituents ought to she be elected.
“I’m in a position to convey my lived experiences to the desk when discussing insurance policies and the way insurance policies will have an effect on folks as a result of I’m one of many folks these insurance policies have an effect on, being from a working-class household,” Matos stated.
Matos has been endorsed by the New York Working Households Occasion, the Ithaca Tenants Union, the Ithaca Dawn Motion and the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America.
Early voting for the Widespread Council election runs from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5. The election will happen on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Kate Sanders is a Solar contributor and might be reached at [email protected].