Ithaca, N.Y. - Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick says he draws heavily on life experience as he shapes public policy -- which may seem odd for someone still only in his 20s.

But the upstate New York city's youngest-ever mayor says his approach to Ithaca's budget gap and even its homeless population can be traced to a childhood that took him from a homeless shelter to the Ivy League.

Reflecting on the first half of his first term, the 27-year-old Democrat says he solved a $3 million budget gap by inviting everyone's input. The city avoided layoffs and a 15 percent tax increase.

Remembering how the church helped his family out of the shelter, he got the religious community involved in addressing Ithaca's homeless population.