City of Syracuse Political Races Heating Up

By Lisa Dumas
Fri, Aug 2, 2013

Story Detail
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Common Councilor Pat Hogan
Since the beginning of the year, political candidates in Syracuse and Onondaga County have been gearing up for highly-anticipated elections in November, but, so far, several of the races have not yet been without controversy. Seats on the ballot include mayor, city council, council president, city court judge, school board and county legislature.

In the mayoral race, Republicans have seemingly had a hard time finding a candidate to challenge Democratic Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who is currently seeking election to a second term.

So much so that, previously, Onondaga County Republican Committee Chairman Tom Dadey reportedly put his own name on the ballot as a placeholder.

Dadey had until July 19 to name an actual candidate on the petition, but, since the deadline passed, he may have decided to move out of the city in order to disqualify himself and possibly get his name removed from the ballot, according to reports.

And, in view of the fact that no official candidate’s name has been given, there has been heavy speculation that the party will cross-endorse Democratic City Councilor Pat Hogan, in lieu of endorsing their own Republican contender.

Consequently, Onondaga Democratic Committee Chair Mark English published a letter in Syracuse’s The Post Standard inquiring whether Hogan would ask Democratic voters to abandon their party should he choose to accept Republicans’ support.

Hogan responded, “The people of Syracuse deserve a choice. The only pledge I will make is to the people of the city of Syracuse to put people before politics. In the last four years, our neighborhoods have not gotten safer, our schools have not performed better and our fiscal strength has not increased.”

However, Hogan has not said whether he plans to agree to the potential Republican nomination.

In addition, Dadey recently filed a lawsuit with the State Supreme Court to challenge the nominating petitions of Republican candidate Ian Hunter who, although not endorsed by the GOP, filed 680 signatures with the Onondaga County Board of Elections to put his name on the November ballot.

Dadey has been granted a hearing on Aug. 13, according to reports.

Alfonso Davis is also a candidate for mayor. He will challenge Miner in a Democratic primary.

Davis ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary against Miner, Joe Nicoletti and Carmen Harlow in 2009.

In 2011 Davis’ wife, Felicia Davis, was fired by Miner from her position as head of the Syracuse Review Board. Miner cited poor performance as her reason for letting go Felicia Davis.

Felicia Davis has a lawsuit pending in federal court against the city of Syracuse saying she was discriminated against.

Additionally, Kevin Bott has joined the race on the Green Party line.

In the race for county legislature, Democrats are cross-endorsing conservative Gary Brisson, of North Syracuse, to run against current Onondaga County Legislator Kathy Rapp, a Salina Republican.

Brisson has been a field representative at National Grid for 36 years, and said he will retire this year in hopes of being elected to the office.

Rapp has served as an Onondaga County legislator since 1998.

“The Democrats endorsed him because they needed a candidate,” she said. “You give people a choice, that’s the system. You definitely can’t get mad at someone for stepping up.”

However, as the longest-serving member of the legislature, Rapp said she looks forward to continuing her time in office.

“Even after 14 years I still find it really interesting,” she said. “There’s still issues that need to get solved. I still get up in the morning and I’m excited to start my day.”

According to the Democratic Party, there are no Democrats interested in the seat.

In the city council arena, the Syracuse Democratic Committee has declined to endorse two incumbent members, Jean Kessner and Lance Denno, in favor of two new candidates, Pamela Hunter and Jeff Wright, to run in their place.

Kessner and Denno have reportedly both had long-standing conflict with the mayor and are now circulating petitions in order to challenge Hunter and Wright in a September primary.

As a result, Councilor Pat Hogan accused the mayor of trying to influence the committee, but, although Miner acknowledged she had recently been “frustrated” with council leadership, she said she in no way attempted to sway the decision.

In addition, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins said he will run for the 4th District Common Council Seat currently held by Khalid Bey.

Hawkins has run for office several times since moving to Syracuse in 1991, including a prior run for the 4th district seat, a bid for mayor in 2005 and one for governor in 2010.

But this time, according to Hawkins, he’s confident he will win.

“I’ve been talking about the issues all along,” Hawkins said. “It’s just more people know who I am and what I’m standing for.”

Hawkins said he plans to focus on three areas if he successfully takes the seat, including fiscal health, city-funded jobs for city residents, and economic development.

All five city council seats are available, as well as City Council President Van Robinson’s seat, and two of the four councilor-at-large seats.

Three school board seats are also available. Calvin Corridors and Richard Strong are not seeking re-election, while President Patricia Body is seeking another term.

Body currently has the endorsement of the Democratic Party, and, according to Body, she decided to run because she said she has the most experience.

“I think one of the reasons I chose to run is because I think it would be difficult to have seven members with very little experience,” she said. “There are four members who’ve only been there for a year and a half. I will have been there four.”

As for her chances of being re-elected, “Well, you never know,” Body said. “I’m hoping they would be good, but you never know.”

Currently, three Democrats and two Republicans have filed petitions to run for the seats, overall.

According to the Onondaga County Board of Elections, there are 38,508 Democrats, 11,625 Republicans and 16,461 registered voters not affiliated with any party in Syracuse.

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