Everyone Gets a Red Beard at 4/27, 11:30 a.m. Ceremony, Under Hoosick St. Bridge
TROY, N.Y. (4/27/15) -- Anasha Cummings is the newest candidate to announce his campaign for a seat on Troy’s City Council.
The 26-year old downtown resident is one of the city's most active citizens, currently working with more than two dozen community initiatives including: Solarize Troy, Tech Valley Center of Gravity, the Mount Ida Preservation Association and Troy’s Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.
"Over the past few years, Anasha Cummings has quietly, stunningly raised the bar for what it means to be an engaged young citizen in Troy: forward-thinking, sustainable, compassionate, inclusive," said Laban Coblentz, founder and chairman of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity. "I will be excited to witness him press for positive change as a member of the Troy City Council."
Though striking in appearance -- with mountains of long bright red hair on his head and face -- Cummings is genial and soft spoken. He looks like a ginger version of "Hagrid" from the Harry Potter movies.
"He understands important issues in a way that I think somebody on the city council should," said Mike Esposito, retired librarian and longtime community leader of Troy's Little Italy neighborhood. "We have never had anyone like him even interested in running for city council."
Rather than conforming, Cummings is embracing what sets him apart from others who have served before him.
"I've been told I'm too young and idealistic to get elected, that change comes slowly, that I have to shave my beard," Cummings said. "But I believe the people of Troy have been calling for something different from our politicians for a long time."
Instead of trying to be like someone he's not, Cummings will ask supporters to take him as he comes and don bushy red costume beards in solidarity during his campaign launch today at 11:30 a.m. The ceremony will take place under the Hoosick Street bridge at Fifth Ave. in front of a mural painted by members of Troy Alley Action.
A lifelong Democrat, Cummings is seeking Democratic, Working Families and Independence party lines for one of three “at-large” seats on the Troy City Council.
After brief introductory remarks, Cummings will elaborate on his key platform items and goals.
MAKING PUBLIC INFORMATION AVAILABLE THROUGH THE INTERNET
First on Cummings' list of key platform items is to make public information easily available to the public, through the Internet.
"Right now, the city budget is published online each year as a link to a 200-page unsearchable scanned .pdf. It seems like our government is using technology from the 1980s to generate and analyze the flow of money through City Hall," Cummings said. "That means, it's practically impossible for voters to find out how much money the city spends on electricity, because that data is spread out through multiple departments. We need to put this information in a database format so people can analyze it and make tough budgetary decisions with accurate information."
The city also fails to effectively market its foreclosure properties by opting to publish that information as a .pdf rather than through more useful interactive mapping software available for free online. (During the fall 2014 foreclosure sale, Cummings took it upon himself to generate an interactive Google map of the properties for sale. Then, using social media, he made this resource available to people looking to invest in this city. The effort helped attract two married couples living in New York City who have since purchased property and are relocating their business to Troy.)
Cummings is currently working on other Internet programs that would make it easier for citizens to keep track of the city council’s activities.
LOWER COST OF LIVING, RAISE QUALITY OF LIFE
Next on Cummings' list of priorities is to lower the cost of living, while raising the quality of life in Troy through modern thinking about our infrastructure.
"Taxes are high in Troy, and it's going to take some intelligent strategies to reduce them. But there are other ways we can save Trojans money as well," Cummings said. "When we work to make Troy a more walkable community, with vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods, we are helping to create a situation in which a two-car family can become a one-car family. Eliminating one extra car can save a family as much as $10,000 per year in car-ownership expenses. We can achieve that goal by attracting more employers and more retail amenities like neighborhood grocery stores."
Cummings also wants to lower the cost of utilities in Troy -- for both citizens and the government -- through green energy sources like solar. As a member of Troy's sustainability task force, Cummings helped the city contract a local company to build a municipal solar farm expected to save city government hundreds of thousands of dollars on its annual utility bills. Site analysis is now underway.
ABOUT ANASHA CUMMINGS
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Anasha Cummings moved to Troy to study Design, Innovation, and Society at RPI. During his time at RPI, he became deeply involved in local sustainability and neighborhood organizing. He has worked as an intern for Congressman Paul Tonko, a VISTA sustainability coordinator for Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (TRIP), and as a project coordinator with Empire Solar.
He loves living in Troy because of the natural spaces woven throughout the city.
His website is http://AnashaEst.com
For high-resolution publicity photographs and videos of Anasha Cummings featuring Troy icons wearing red beards, visit the following Dropbox link: