By Adam Rivera
Going back to Ithaca, New York to interview Svante Myrick for NBC's Rock Center was a special experience for me. When I first met him in 2007 I was a student at Ithaca College. As the executive producer of election night coverage at ICTV, my school's TV station, I chose to interview Myrick who was running for a seat on Ithaca’s City Council. And even though he was running unopposed, it was his approach to the job that interested me. He demonstrated a clear vision for Cornell's college town while maintaining a maturity and professionalism that was refreshing to his constituents.
When we met for our interview in the fall of '07, I remember Myrick lived above a bar near Cornell's campus. The location was nice, however short-lived due to an electrical fire in the building that forced him to search for a new apartment. His experience with the fire brought the issue of housing to the forefront of his mayoral campaign.
For our first interview, as a novice journalist and cameraman, I took the time to light his apartment and frame the shot. However, I quickly learned the importance of choosing one's interview location wisely. We ended up having to compete with noisy roommates in the living room and an even louder bar crowd downstairs.
My interview with Myrick was broadcast on ICTV on November 6, 2007. Though it wasn't a tough election for Myrick, the experience would soon serve as a trial run for his mayoral run.
After graduation I moved to New York City and started working for NBC News. I pitched dozens of stories over the years, but I never stopped searching for interesting ones in central New York. When I joined the staff of Rock Center I learned that Myrick was now a candidate for mayor of Ithaca. I researched his back-story and read newspaper reports about the overwhelming public support behind his campaign. All indications were that Myrick, the 24-year-old former college city council member, would soon be elected mayor of the city of 30-thousand residents.
On November 8, 2011, almost exactly four years after his college campaign, he won the mayoral race by 1,060 votes.
Jonathan Sherry/Fly Me To The Moon Photography
Rock Center's Adam Rivera interviews Mayor Myrick (2012)
I quickly realized that Myrick's election was not just a local story. I felt it was worth telling to a national audience since he had overcome enormous odds, including parts of his childhood where he was homeless. Nearly two months later, I was back in Ithaca with a team from NBC including correspondent Kate Snow and producer David Gelles to put together the piece.
With Rock Center’s cameras rolling, I had the opportunity to join Myrick on his first day as Ithaca’s mayor. He seemed surprised as he took his first steps into the mayor’s office, a room nearly the same size as the college apartment where we first met. Only this time our interview location was quiet and Myrick was in charge.
The experience was surreal. When I thought back on the past four years and how our lives have changed since our first meeting, I realized we’ve both come a long way. Who knows? Maybe our paths may cross again.