Letter to the Editor: Supporting Katie Sims for Mayor

This is a letter to the editor, written by Ithaca Alderman Jorge DeFendini and Tompkins County Legislator Veronica Pillar. It was not written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit letters to the editor, please send them to Matt Butler at [email protected]

We are a pair of Ithaca City residents and elected officials writing to enthusiastically support Katie Sims for Mayor of Ithaca. We have both known Katie for some time, during which time Katie demonstrated her ability to lead, listen and fight for the people of this town. Ithaca finds itself at the center of many storms, but we believe Katie is more than capable of guiding us through them and into a brighter future.

Katie trusts the science of climate change and is ready to fight it with action, not scepticism. Climate catastrophe weighs on Ithaca every year, with heat advisories, ice dams, growing floodplains and more. Half-hearted changes to the status quo with fear of backfire preventing us from doing more must be exposed for what they are: climate denial. For years, Katie Sims has consistently demonstrated that she not only knows the seriousness of this problem, but is not afraid to fight for a sustainable future.

Katie is also a fierce fighter for the tenants of Ithaca. A landlord herself, Katie has spent years as a tenant activist supporting tenants facing eviction, uninhabitable apartments and abuse of power by slumlords. More than ¾ of Ithacans are tenants, but this is not reflected in our current municipal policies. Katie is ready to advocate for tenants by successfully evicting for a good cause, ensuring our livability codes are enforced, and putting people before profit.

Katie constantly shows up to support our neighbors in countless ways. Between the two of us, we have personally witnessed the following:

  • Katie shows up in eviction court, sometimes in freezing temperatures, to walk tenants through what may be their first appearance before a judge with warmth and kindness;
  • Katie stood up to a multi-billion dollar university and demanded that it divest itself of the fossil fuels that are poisoning our planet;
  • Katie stands up, sings and speaks on the picket lines in solidarity with striking workers in the face of company harassment and retaliation;
  • Katie asks people she meets, from young children to the elderly, what matters to them in our city, and listens attentively and encouragingly to their responses;
  • Katie worked as a member of the city’s independent redistricting commission to ensure the lines for the next decade were drawn fairly;
  • Katie saves space for Ithacans to describe the hostile and unsafe housing conditions, offers hands-on support and follows up.

In short, Katie embodies a spirit of good neighborliness that any mayor of Ithaca needs to truly represent their people.

Katie knows our city needs systemic solutions for systemic problems. The problems of gentrification, labor shortages and climate change are the consequences of institutions that prioritize profit over people. To correct them, we must act and not wait for the market to correct itself; that we are going further than modest reforms that leave things practically unchanged. If we want to stop gentrification, we have to pass eviction for a good cause and keep tenants in their homes; if we want to keep municipal services fully staffed, we must improve the workplaces of our municipal employees; and if we want to fight climate change, we must listen to our climate experts and be bold in our policy. Katie’s platform makes it clear that she is ready to fix our city’s institutions so they work for everyone, not just the few.

As of November 2022, Ithaca’s Green New Deal has stalled, with the Director of Sustainability resigning in justified frustration. City staff stood up last Wednesday to tell the public that they are underappreciated and underpaid. Housing is increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible, and those with precarious housing or no housing bear the brunt of this. All of this is unsustainable and unacceptable. If we want Ithaca to truly be a safe and healthy community, inside and outside of City Hall, we need a leader with a deep commitment to workers’ rights, the right to housing for all human beings, to fight tooth and nail against climate change, to responsibility and to solidarity. Katie Sims is that leader, and we invite you to vote for her for mayor of Ithaca.

Sign,

Ithaca City Alderman, Ward 4, Jorge DeFendini

Veronica D. Pillar, Tompkins County, District 2 Legislator

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