• Malmgren Concert Black History Month
  • CSEA_Help Wanted_Labor Relations
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • 5 for CNY - Learn How
  • Urban CNY-Survey 2.0 LinkedIn-530 x 75 px
  • Syracuse Stage Murder on the Orient Express
  • Land Bank - Restoring Properties

Celebrating Urban Life Since 1989

Menu Hamburger White
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • CSEA_Help Wanted_Labor Relations
  • Urban CNY-Survey 2.0 LinkedIn-530 x 75 px
  • Land Bank - Restoring Properties
  • Syracuse Stage Murder on the Orient Express
  • 5 for CNY - Learn How
  • Malmgren Concert Black History Month

The race card misplayed on DeFrancisco

The clown show in Albany took a less than humorous turn during a hearing in the state Senate chamber reviewing the nomination of Mark O’Luck, a person of color, to the New York State Power Commission. “I had done some research on him,” Senator John DeFrancisco reflected recently, “and there were some things in his background, particularly an article he wrote, which were pretty inflammatory. I asked him if he wrote it and he said he didn’t know. I thought he was being dishonest.”

DeFrancisco pushed the point, and in the course of the discussion, Kevin Parker, a downstate African-American Senator, called him a racist. “The comment was completely asinine,” he maintains, “but rather than cooling off after the heat of battle, rather than moderating his position, he then called me a white supremacist the following day on his website, which just boggled the mind.”

Flash back to 1985, when minds were being boggled locally by the push for a black person as a major party’ candidate for Mayor of Syracuse. And the person doing the pushing was John DeFrancisco.

“Sid Johnson was an extremely popular Superintendent of the city Schools,” DeFrancisco recalls. “He was close to retirement, and 1 though we needed a new type of leadership in the city. He ran for an unexpired term on the City Council, and won 3 to 1, amazing for a Republican in the city. Then the plan was to run him the next year for mayor. He didn’t get the designation. The designation went to Roy Bernardi, who subsequently lost that race to Tom Young.”

Recently dubbed a pit bull for his aggressive style in Senate debate, DeFrancisco wanted to press the issue then. “I wanted him to primary,” he notes, “because with his popularity and the impact he made on the schools, he would have won that primary easily, and i think he would have become the next mayor. But he was a very impatient man, and he decided he was going to run an independent campaign, and obviously you can’t run on a third party and win the mayor’s race.”

It was deja vu all over again for DeFrancisco in the most recent mayoral contest. “In the last race, since we’re bringing up race,” he quips, “I was supporting Otis Jennings.” Jennings, an African-American, after losing initial GOP favor for the city’s top spot, ran unsuccessfully on the Conservative line.

Up for reelection this November, DeFrancisco had speculated two years ago that he would probably step down if Republicans lost the Senate majority. “I’m looking differently at it,” he says now, “only in so far as we’ve got to get back in the majority. The situation in Albany right now is just horrible. It’s frustrating, as I knew it would be if we, ever lost the majority. But what’s really bad now, in my judgment, is if we don’t win the majority back, the regional imbalance will be as bad as it is now for the next 20 years, because redistricting takes place after this election with the new Census. The 30 Republican members of the Senate are equally distributed

throughout the state. But 23 out of the 32 {Democrats} are from New York City, and they control everything.”

While not necessarily sharing the vision with Sarah Palin of galloping pink elephants, DeFrancisco senses a real politic among Tea Party enthusiasts. “I think it’s real,” he says. “I sense that people are extremely, extremely upset. I just think people are up to their necks with the concept that we have to provide everything to everybody. The real issue, in my judgment, is what that’s going to translate in November. You hear the sentiment, all the incumbents have to be thrown out. That’s not the answer. You can’t paint everybody with the same broad brush. But there will be a huge voter turnout this year, and it’s a strong opportunity for the Republicans to take back the Senate.”

Reflecting on the name calling, DeFrancisco smiles. “Pit bull,” he muses, “maybe because I’ve been trained as an attorney and I’ve done trial work my whole life. But after the racist comment by Senator Parker, someone said I’m an equal opportunity agitator, that I don’t care who it is, I’m going to ask the right questions and let the cards fall as they may.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Local, State & National


Resources

Neighborhoods

Features

Contact Us