Syracuse Mayoral Race 2017

What you need to know before the mayoral primary on Tuesday

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

Candidates detail their platforms and what separates them from their opponents.

Candidates will go head-to-head Tuesday during the primaries for the Democratic Party, Independence Party and Reform Party.

Marty Masterpole, Joe Nicoletti and Juanita Perez Williams are running on the Democratic ticket, while Laura Lavine and Ben Walsh are vying for both the Independence Party and Reform Party tickets.

The winners of the primaries will move on to the general election on Nov. 7.

Laura Lavine (R)

Candidate Laura Lavine answers a question at the Syracuse Mayoral Candidate Forum held Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, N.Y. Nine candidates for mayor fielded questions from moderators and the community about their positions in the race. About 200 community members packed the center to hear the six democrats, one republican, one independent and one green party candidate speak. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

Laura Lavine is the sole Republican candidate running for mayor, but the self-described “multi-party candidate” and social liberal is also running on the Reform Party and Independence Party ballots in Tuesday’s primary elections.

Lavine was the superintendent of the LaFayette Central School District and has lived in the same home in Syracuse for 57 years. She said she would focus on crime and school quality in a February interview with The Daily Orange.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and New York Republican State Committee chairman Edward Cox have both endorsed the candidate. She has also received endorsements from the Onondaga County Republican Committee and others.

Lavine’s representatives could not be reached for comment.

Marty Masterpole (D)

Candidate Marty Masterpole answers a question at the Syracuse Mayoral Candidate Forum held Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, N.Y. Nine candidates for mayor fielded questions from moderators and the community about their positions in the race. About 200 community members packed the center to hear the six democrats, one republican, one independent and one green party candidate speak. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

Marty Masterpole said he believes his business know-how and background as city financier gives him an edge over his opponents.

Masterpole, the city’s auditor and owner of Masterpole-Murphy Insurance Agency, wants voters to know he’s one of them, he said.

Crime and mayhem are the city’s greatest problems, Masterpole said. He said socio-economic problems can contribute to crime, but Syracuse needs to be made safe by hiring more police officers.

Syracuse had its deadliest year in history in 2016 with 31 homicides, according to Syracuse.com.

Masterpole said vacancies in the Syracuse Police Department need to be filled, and he won’t require police officers to live within the city.

“I’m a fan of police officers living where they work,” he said, but he wants to make the city a place police officers want to live.

Masterpole said he won’t host a watch party and will instead stay at home with his family while primary results are released. He has two children and his wife teaches at Corcoran High School, he said.

“From having a young family to my business background and understanding how government operates, I think I’m the best person to lead the city forward,” Masterpole said.

Joe Nicoletti (D)

Candidate Joseph Nicoletti answers a question at the Syracuse Mayoral Candidate Forum held Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, N.Y. Nine candidates for mayor fielded questions from moderators and the community about their positions in the race. About 200 community members packed the center to hear the six democrats, one republican, one independent and one green party candidate speak. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

Joe Nicoletti’s political career spans 40 years, holding positions ranging from common councilor to state assemblyman. Now he wants to add “mayor of Syracuse” to his resume.

He serves as a councilor-at-large on the Syracuse Common Council. He served the council in the 1980s, left the council in the 1990s and was re-appointed in 2015.

In an interview with The Daily Orange in March, he said poverty was the “worst of all” the issues plaguing Syracuse. Like other candidates, Nicoletti said poverty contributes to crime and the reverse.

Nicoletti was hesitant to support declaring Syracuse a sanctuary city, saying a better approach would be for the city to declare it has never sought out immigrants in the past and will not in the future.

“I think our city is at a very important crossroads,” he said in the March interview. “It’s going to be difficult. … And I think it requires someone who has deep experience, and someone who is not looking to make this a political stepping stone.”

Nicoletti has been endorsed by the Onondaga County Democratic Committee and the Working Families Party.

Representatives of Nicoletti’s campaign could not be reached for comment.

Juanita Perez Williams (D)

Candidate Juanita Perez Williams answers a question at the Syracuse Mayoral Candidate Forum held Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, N.Y. Nine candidates for mayor fielded questions from moderators and the community about their positions in the race. About 200 community members packed the center to hear the six democrats, one republican, one independent and one green party candidate speak. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

Juanita Perez Williams said the biggest problem facing Syracuse is neighborhood revitalization.

Issues like poverty, crime, unemployment, schools and infrastructure fall under that umbrella, but the most important thing is to insure constituents have the opportunity to have a voice in their neighborhoods, she said.

Perez Williams listed poverty as her first priority on her website. United States Census Bureau data from 2015 showed 31 percent of city residents live below the federal poverty line.

To lower the poverty rate, Perez Williams said she would support affordable housing initiatives that promote homeownership rather than renting and work training programs that lead to well-paying jobs.

In an interview with The Daily Orange in March, she said she supports Syracuse as a sanctuary city, but that the term “sanctuary city” could offer false hope to immigrants who don’t know their rights.

She said she has worked harder than any of her opponents, for her team has made thousands of phone calls, knocked on thousands of doors and she has already written her plan for her first 100 days in office as mayor.

Perez Williams is a former associate dean of students at Syracuse University and has worked in city government under Miner and state government as regional director for the New York State Department of Labor. She is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

The candidate leads opponent Joe Nicoletti by a slim margin, according to an August poll.

Ben Walsh (I)

Candidate Ben Walsh answers a question at the Syracuse Mayoral Candidate Forum held Monday, June 19, 2017 at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, N.Y. Nine candidates for mayor fielded questions from moderators and the community about their positions in the race. About 200 community members packed the center to hear the six democrats, one republican, one independent and one green party candidate speak. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

Wasim Ahmad | Staff Photographer

The three pillars of Ben Walsh’s platform include improving quality of life and safety in neighborhoods, improving academic achievement and safety in schools and providing economic opportunity for all people in the city.

These issues cannot be solved individually — they are all interconnected, Walsh said.

Walsh is the only candidate running solely as an independent. Laura Lavine is running as both an independent and a Republican.

His political independence is the most important thing he wants voters to know about him, he said. With political partisanship at a high, Walsh said his independence puts him in a position to bring people together.

Up until a year and a half ago, Walsh served as Syracuse’s economic development director under Miner.

The independent comes from a long line of Republican politicians. His father was a U.S. congressman and his grandfather was a mayor of Syracuse. However, he still maintains his status as an independent candidate.

“It’s in my blood,” Walsh said when asked what public service means to him. “And when people ask me what it’s like growing up in a family full of politicians, I correct them and I say, ‘it’s a family full of public servants.’”

Walsh said he believes his background in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors would allow him to be a successful mayor.

His campaign raised $297,490.23 as of Sept. 1, about $100,000 more than Joe Nicoletti, the candidate with the next highest fundraising.

Howie Hawkins (Green Party)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Oct. 19, 2015) -- Howard Hawkins, a Green Party member, officially announced his campaign for city auditor today during a press conference. He chose to make the announcement in front of the ice rink in Clinton Square, claiming audits of the rink by the previous two city auditors did not appropriately focus the offices resources on more important issues in Syracuse, such as public safety and education. (Photo by Kenny Holston)

Kenny Holston | Staff Photographer

Howie Hawkins will not participate in any primary election.

Instead of following the traditional trickle down economics, Hawkins said he wants a “bottom-up” approach where the city helps low-income, working class people. That in turn reduces crime, reduces problems in city schools and makes the city more attractive to middle-class people and businesses, he said.

The Green Party candidate doesn’t have a background in government as an elected official, but he said he’s worked as a political organizer for environmental and working class causes since the 1960s.

He has never been elected to office despite running for more than 20 different positions in local, city and state government.

Hawkins’ platform includes tax reform that would create a city income tax, anti-poverty initiatives, state-supported worker co-ops for poor and working-class people, public ownership of utilities and desegregation of schools and housing.

While other candidates referenced crime or poverty as the greatest issue facing the city, Hawkins said it was bankruptcy. Miner’s last budget proposal would have the city incur an $18.5 million deficit, according to a report from Syracuse.com.

“My stump speech starts with, ‘I want to be the next mayor of Syracuse, not the last mayor,’” he said.

Candidates no longer running

Andrew Maxwell, a Democratic candidate, dropped out of the race in May.

Raymond Blackwell and Alfonso Davis, both Democrats, were eliminated from the Democratic primary after failing to obtain the required number of signatures on their respective petitions.

Democrat-then-libertarian Chris Fowler twice failed to get the required number of petition signatures for the Democratic primary and then the Libertarian primary and was booted from the race.

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