Fellow Syracuse residents, we are living in momentous times. It is a time filled with economic uncertainty, but packed with possibilities. It is the possibilities that have propelled me to seek the Office of Mayor of Syracuse. I believe and know that every resident is important. There is much at stake and every citizen is a stakeholder that must be engaged to move this City forward. True change occurs when there is engagement and accountability, and, when every citizen has the resources, access and opportunity to explore his or her possibilities unbridled. To do this the Mayor must inspire the citizens he seeks to lead.
Over the years, our city has become a very diverse place, and yet we have not made that diversity work for us. The Mayor must envision a City where, not one area, or one race, or one group is left behind. But there must be a common vision that moves everyone forward educationally and upward economically.
Every neighborhood and every citizen needs to understand what “green power” is, and what “sustainability” means, and what “capacity-building” can do. I envision a Syracuse where everyone, every segment of our community has something to contribute, and something to aspire to. We must recognize our common destiny, and with my comprehensive plan I pledge to restore the beauty and integrity of our neighborhoods, to increase access to economic opportunity, to invest in our educational system, to maintain public safety, and to incubate new technology that is green and sustainable.
My comprehensive economic plan for true change in Syracuse includes systemic support for small businesses from start to success; revitalization for existing industry; and an aggressive marketing strategy to secure new business and encourage existing companies to expand in our area. Small business is the engine that made America the great country that is, and helped establish Syracuse as a thriving economic area many decades ago. Once again, we must encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. We must insure that those who would create small business have the tools they needed to be successful.
As Mayor, I would institute a new agenda for our community development office. There will be economic development specialists who walk new entrepreneurs through the steps to get their ideas off the ground and remain available for consultation through stability. For example, we can offer tax incentives that allow new businesses to get off the ground and be taxed on a graduated scale for a short term. This creates a win-win situation such that the city gains a new business that will be able to hire locally while increasing our tax base.
We must invest in our education system. Most people who move from the city do so because of issues or concerns with the school system. I believe that our schools can improve the outcomes for our students when there is an emphasis on raising expectations. We must believe in our young people and expect them to do their best. Simultaneously we must raise our expectations of our schools’ teachers, administrators, and support staff. We must give them the financial support they need and the diversity in the teaching staff they deserve.
In doing that, we must equip students to be either college bound or workforce ready. The YES TO EDUCATION program is an excellent way to support college bound students, and yet we need a similar incentive for those students who are not going to college. I believe an internship that partners with existing businesses and trade associations offers those students a concrete way to gain valuable skills. We can no longer tolerate a 50% drop out rate. We must look at the total student from pre-kindergarten through high school. Under my administration, I will establish a positive working relationship with the school superintendent and board commissioners. We must all be on the same page to insure our students’ success.
A third issue is public safety. I favor an “engagement/enforcement” model. This means that we must work to enhance the relationship between all residents, neighborhoods, and police. Officers need to walk the beat to become “engaged” and to get to know the people they serve. Our young people need to feel that they have ownership in the success of their community, and that mutual respect is the cornerstone of how they will be dealt with. We must provide other alternatives to them beyond standing on the corners that will positively challenge their interests and advance their abilities.
Engagement does not negate enforcement. There must be zero tolerance for guns, drugs, murders, and crime. As Mayor, I will strive to improve the quality of life so that all members of our community: young and seniors, Black and White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and new immigrants will feel safe and respected.
Quality, affordable housing and updating our infrastructure is a fourth area. We must insure that those residents in our city that have been or will be displaced due to the closing of their current housing complexes will be given access to quality affordable housing. These tenants should have emergency help to minimize their immediate hardship.
We must have a comprehensive housing plan that demolishes houses that are beyond repair, and yet saves those homes that can be revitalized. When a house is demolished the vacant space must be utilized. We can implement incentives for homeowners to encourage home improvement, renew the area by creating new green spaces, and build new structures that upgrade and beautify our neighborhoods.
Those who currently rent should not be forced to live in apartments and residences that do not meet building codes. Landlords who own dozens of units and fail to maintain their properties must be held accountable. It is not fair that large landlords have been allowed to operate under different standards than a family that invests in a house in hopes of securing their future and retirement. We cannot allow legal loopholes to shield these real-estate investors any longer.
As our infrastructure ages, we must move to upgrade it. We cannot wait for a municipal crisis, but must begin to identify those structures which need immediate attention. With federal stimulus dollars at stake, we must be ready with a plan that prioritizes our needs, and has a schedule for incremental replacement. For our local area to continue growing we must be sure that the city’s infrastructure is strong and can support an influx of new business, and people.
I have seen Syracuse diminish as a city and fail to tap its unrealized potential. As a grassroots activist for nearly 24 years, an educator in the school district, and political consultant, I have a new vision for the challenges that face us; and a new perspective on how to solve them.
My comprehensive plan addresses major issues that challenge us, and I possess the necessary leadership skills to collaborate with our Common Council, the School District Superintendent, and the County Executive. True change requires challenging the status quo, thinking outside of the box, and working collaboratively to find innovative ways: to improve our economic base, our educational institutions, public safety and quality of life.
Where the City and County can share services, then I would be open to consolidation. We must be a City that recognizes our regional potential and collaborate with the County as an equal partner. Syracuse is the heart of this area, and where the heart is strong, the region will be strong.
This is a transformative time in the City’s history. We can continue with the politics of division or decide that this election we will embark on a new direction. As your Mayor, I will be the ambassador this City needs to attract new business, encourage our young people to stay or return after college, and to help Syracuse become a well known destination for its diversity, economic stability, culture, arts, and wonderful natural resources. Together we can bring true citizen power and change to Syracuse.