The Making of a Mayor

By Nicole Cisneros McKeen

Svante Myrick was getting a ride home from Rob Flaherty ’13 after a meeting when he told the Ithaca Col­lege junior that he was thinking of running for mayor of Ithaca.

Flaherty was one of the first people Myrick had told. Once the campaign started, Flaherty quickly went from registering students on South Hill to acting as the campaign’s communi­cations director. The fact that Fla­herty was young was of no concern to Myrick — though his 22-year-old campaign manager advised him to hire a more seasoned veteran.

“He was born to do it,” Myrick says of Flaherty. “He was a legit commu­nications director.”

Myrick, a 25-year-old Cornell grad, became the youngest mayor in Ithaca’s history when he was sworn in on January 1, 2012. He was the youngest alderperson for the City of Ithaca at 20 and one of the youngest African Americans elected to any political position in U.S. history.

“Age doesn’t matter,” says the mayor, who was actually the oldest one work­ing on his campaign. “You have to hire the best person for the job.”

Flaherty was no political newbie. By the time he worked on Myrick’s campaign, he had already interned for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., County Legisla­tor Pam Mackesey’s campaign for New York State Senate, and Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s office.

This summer Flaherty sat on the Rental Housing Advisory Commission for Ithaca and served as communica­tions director and campaign manager for Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. In the fall he will take office as the student body president for Ithaca College.

Myrick quotes Newark mayor Cory Booker in saying, “Young people don’t yet know what they can’t do.”

Watch below for a segment on Myrick produced by Adam Rivera '09 for Rock Center with Brian Williams titled "Mr. Mayor: Svante Myrick 'Full of Hope' and Just 24."

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Read about Rivera's experience interviewing Myrick for ICTV.

Read more about IC alumni who work behind the scenes in the world of politics at these links:

Georgia Bills ’74 represented Massachusetts  State Representative Jerry Parisella while he was deployed in Iraq.

Les Bernal ’91 is executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling.

Tammy Mayberry ’97 is a a lobbyist for the City of Chi­cago in Wash­ington, D.C.

Dan Lamb ’86 has served as a top adviser to U.S. Con­gressman Maurice Hinchey since 1997.

Rob Bluey ’01 is the director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation

John Balduzzi ’01 is the president of The Balduzzi Group, a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C.

Sam Adams ’11 interned in Senator Olympia Snowe's office.