Local elections result in politicians gaining offices that have an immediate impact on our daily lives: streets paved and plowed, criminals arrested, house fires put out, school children educated–or not, taxes levied for all these things . . . and much more. Yet, people don’t really pay attention to any of these things, preferring to vote in major elections like the Presidential race coming up next year. While national elections are no doubt important, especially in these times of war and economic collapse, local elections shouldn’t be seen as chopped liver.
That being said, the most recent city of Syracuse elections produced both winners and losers:
1) Helen Hudson. The first-time candidate ran away with the At Large council race (pick two) for Syracuse Common Council. She got more votes than anyone and becomes the second African-American to win a city-wide seat on the Council (Van Robinson has won both an At Large seat and the Council President seat.) Helen won because of her altruistic and courageous work for Mothers Against Gun Violence, a group that she created and has kept going for the past several years. Class wins out, especially amongst politicians singularly lacking any class at all.
2) Howie Hawkins. Yeah, yeah. He’s run 20 times. He’s never won. He lost again. But his campaign for the 4th District council was different. Howie ran an amazingly close race (losing by less than 100 votes) by focusing more effort on reaching out to voters than on creating the perfect Green Party issue platform (usually printed in nine-point font, with soy-based ink, on 90% post-consumer waste recycled paper, both sides of the paper: with nary an -ism not exposed and opposed.) The “Green Hawks” had many volunteers, ran an impressive door-to-door canvass and utilized a wide array of impressive social media. One of these days . . .
3) Marty Masterpole. He got slimed in a messy mud-slinging campaign financed by the state Republican committee. He was caught up in the controversy over Stephanie Miner’s donations to local candidates through her political action committee. He didn’t do much actual campaigning–mainly some mailers and a couple of public appearances. And he still won handily in the city auditor race over his Republican challenger.
1) Stephanie Miner. Yeah, her chosen candidates all won, (well, except for her husband’s daughter-in-law running in the suburbs) but the disastrous decision to funnel money to their campaigns through her PAC’s contributions to the state Democratic committee did nothing but create a campaign issue the increasingly desperate Republicans will use against her in two years. She’s hoping that the four new members of the Council (if Jake Barrett holds on to his slim lead in the 1st District) will make the Council an easier group to steamroller, umm . . . work with, over the next 2 years.
2) Steve Kimatian. Kimatian can’t beat Miner at the polls as a mayoral candidate. Kimatian, city GOP chair, can’t get any Republicans to win, or (in several cases) even agree to run, any city Council races. Kimatian can’t beat Masterpole for city auditor despite convincing the state GOP to finance an ugly mud-slinging mail campaign. Ah, we’ve got Steve’s next campaign slogan: Kimatian Can’t!
3) The city of Syracuse. Did you see the GOP wipe-out of the D’s in the County Legislature? Did you read about how the GOP legislators are already taunting County Executive Mahoney–saying she will be all but irrelevant in budget matters? Thank God the city has about nine years to try to figure out a way to negotiate the next city/county sales tax agreement.
4. Parents of African-American and Latino School Children 74% of the students in the Syracuse school district are persons of color. Only one of the seven commissioners on the school board is a person of color. The four winners of seats on the Syracuse school board are all white, east-side liberals. Yeah, I don’t see much change over the next few years. Say Yes To (white east-side liberal) Education.