How Did This Happen to the Democratic Party?


Loose Lips Sink Campaigns

The most transformative day in the Mayoral Race occurred at the Dems for Ben event on Westcott Street. Juanita Perez Williams’ supporters were heckling Ben as he spoke and had to be asked to tone it down. They were heckling in Spanish which caught many by surprise, as people were trying to decipher what was being said, one person blurted out, “I believe they’re saying, Yes we can”.  That moment in time and the campaign’s response to the Westcott Street demonstration, appeared to stall their campaign.

Juanita Perez Williams Supporters Interrupt Walsh Campaign Event

As the party’s nominee, Juanita Perez Williams’ fate was sealed long before Election Day. After an urbancny.com interview,  Ms. Perez Williams questioned the qualifications of Common Councilor Helen Hudson. Word got to back to Hudson and she stated that she was made uncomfortable by the way in which she was portrayed by Perez Williams.

In the meantime time, Onondaga County Legislator Monica Williams, said she’d attempted to meet with Ms. Perez Williams on five occasions. In an interview with urbancny.com she said, “I finally gave up.” It was at that point when Legislator Williams and Councilor Hudson jointly decided to throw their political might behind Walsh. They were followed by Commissioner of Education, Katie Sojewicz.

Helen Hudson, Ben Walsh,Katie Sojewicz and Monica Williams at The Palace Theater.

Helen Hudson, Monica Williams, Sharon Owens, Director of the South West Community Center, and Katie Sojewicz, caught backlash for not backing Juanita Perez Williams. Attacks on social media, noted by urbancny.com  weren’t kind to these African-American women. In fact some of the posts, especially one targeting Sharon Owens was particularly nasty. A city employee with ties to  Juanita Perez Williams accused Owens of failing to do her job “reducing poverty”, because of her role in Community Connections, a program of the SW community center. The criticism from Paul Driscoll, the city’s Director of Neighborhood and Business Development, was short-lived. In published reports, it was revealed that he has a personal relationship with Juanita Perez Williams.

There’s an old adage that has made the rounds in the community: You can’t disrespect African-American women, and believe there will be no consequences.  Obviously, the way these women were treated by the Democratic Party’s nominee, paved the way for Ben Walsh’s victory on Election Day. If the Democratic candidate hadn’t “dissed” Councilor Hudson and Legislator Williams, the Walsh campaign implied that the election night victory might not have been theirs.

When the final poll was released indicating only 2 percent minority support for Ben Walsh, there were people who knew Ben and saw that as their signal to get involved. The Juanita Perez Williams’ comments and actions energized a portion of the African American community. It was clear from that point on, there was going to be a spilt in the usually reliable Democratic Vote.

Based on the observed surge of African American volunteers, endorsements by the Alliance network and urbancny.com, suddenly people, who believed in Helen, Monica and Sharon, followed their lead and migrated to the Ben Walsh campaign.