His mother raised Mayor Svante Myrick with help from his grandparents in upstate New York. His family was homeless at numerous times throughout his youth. Sometimes, he and his three siblings would pool money from after-school jobs to buy clothes, feed themselves and help keep their house lights.
Now, who would expect that the homeless guy would be the state’s future mayor? His story has endeared him to many residents in the small community and earned him comparisons to President Obama.
Mayor Myrick is a graduate of Cornell University who previously served on the Ithaca City Council. He took over the City Hall on January 1, 2012, after he won the election on November 8 with 54 percent of the vote, winning 18 out of 18 districts in a landslide.
When you walk into the office of the 28-year-old mayor of Ithaca, New York, you get an instant taste of what it means to have a young person running your city.
An LED display mounted above the couch in his office flashes text messages that are sent directly to the mayor, Svante Myrick. The messages aren’t censored and are posted instantly for anyone within eyesight to read.
“Could you please pave James St.? The holes are really bad!” read one recent message. “Think about a bike system like citi bikes for Ithaca! Could promote green transport,” another suggested.
Not all of them are so serious: “Stop staring at this sign and get back to work!”
The board is an installation created by local artist Blake Fall-Conroy, and all of the texts can also be read online. “It was always about open communication, by anyone at any time, about anything, whether that’s good or bad,” said Fall-Conroy.
Myrick came of age in the time of smartphones and Snapchat, so this sort of innovation fits him perfectly.
“It’s a new public square,” Myrick said in an interview with Upworthy. “Some people feel very comfortable calling my office or writing a letter. Other people use Twitter and Facebook. It means more people have my ear. And, the more constituents you hear from, the better job you can do.”
Myrick was elected mayor of Ithaca in 2011, making him the youngest mayor in the city’s history and the first African-American to hold the office.