Consolidation: The Death of Black Political Power in the City of Syracuse

The Consensus Commission formed to investigate consolidating Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse has released its final report. I’m not going to get into all of the details of what it would mean to eliminate the City of Syracuse, as it stands today.

Oh, by the way in this consolidation, keep your underfunded Public Schools. This “consolidation” is like marrying a widowed woman, then telling her to leave the children behind. Syracuse to Onondaga County, “If you really loved me, you’d love my children too”.

Eliminating the City of Syracuse comes at a time when hundreds of new units of upscale housing are coming on the market with plans for hundreds, if not thousands more. Major housing plans are underway, which include high rise housing in the form of a massive tower directly across from the OnCenter said to be as large a construction project as Destiny or the Carrier Dome, construction would take three years.

Demographically, across the America cities there’s resurgence and growth, refocused importance as regional economic development drivers. Cities are home to “Meds & Ed’s”, the new catch phrase describing Medical and Educational Institutions.

Our resident educational institutions are bursting at the seams and developers have responded to the demand by planning and building, which ultimately can stop the city’s population decline. Based on plans and reality, our residency should increase by the time the 2020 U.S. Census is taken.

The Politics of Syracuse have changed over the last decade. African-Americans have become elected officials on the Common Council, Van Robinson as Council President is next in line of succession to become Mayor. Instead of the usual one or two African-American representatives, the Syracuse Common Council has begun to resemble the residents of the City of Syracuse.  Several members of the Common Council, including its President are Black.

Syracuse is on the brink of having viable African-American candidates for offices including; Mayor, Common Council, Common Council President, and Councilor-At-Large. Suddenly, there’s a need to,” change the system”.  This radical change would snatch political power out of the hands of voters in Syracuse, specifically minority populations, namely, the African-American community.

When you have 24% of the African-American population enjoined with others in a multi-racial Progressive Political Movement, you win the Mayoral race. With that comes political power African-Americans in Syracuse have never experienced before.

Just as our cities rebound, just as we live the reality of Dr. King’s prognosis that, “the Negro vote will become even more important in the future, especially in close elections.” That power is consolidated away from us.

Poverty Map of Syracuse

When Onondaga County, ”consolidates” with the City of Syracuse, we suddenly disappear like a speck of pepper in milk. No longer politically relevant, and yet our poverty figures will be used to reap in millions, in the name of the 64% of the African American Community who reside in neighborhoods of extreme poverty.

The consolidation will mute political power and engagement with the African-American Community, essentially making us statistically and politically go away. And then what happens to Black political power in Syracuse? It dies.