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From dark ages to pizza parties, 5 candidates compete for 1 Syracuse council seat

Tom Magnarelli
Candidates competing for Syracuse Common Council district seats.

Five candidates in Syracuse vying for one open district council seat, laid out their platforms at a recent public forum. The diverse 4th district, including downtown and parts of the south side and University Hill, has attracted diverse candidates with a wide range of opinions.

Big, lofty ideas on solving Syracuse’s economic woes tend to be floated at these forums. But designated Democratic candidate Latoya Allen said the candidates should be focused on service and accountability.

“I feel as if the district councilor has to be able to relate to the people that put them there in that office, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Allen said.

She is proposing monthly events like coffee with your councilor and politics and pizza.

"And that's me coming to you," Allen said. "Me actually listening to you, listening to your concerns and hearing what you have to say. And also, me telling you what I'm doing down at city hall on your behalf."

Michael Greene, who came in a close second to Allen for the Democratic designation, is about bringing in outside ideas. Having worked in New York City, he is trying to bring programs from there, like a database of local residents and their skills, to Syracuse.

“So that way people that are qualified in the community that are looking for work, are matched with companies that are getting benefits from the city government,” Greene said. "So if you're a painter, and you're a local resident and you're looking for work and some developer got a large tax break, they just need to take a look at you, look at your resume, maybe interview you and see if you're a good fit for the work." 

Democrat Christopher Montgomery said he puts almost 200 people into jobs every year working for the SUNY Educational Opportunity Center.

“Not a lot of people know that that exists," Montgomery said. "We need to strengthen our constituent service so that members of our community know what their resources are.”

Green Party candidate Serena Seals had some difficulty articulating her points, but stuck to the party’s platform of a commuter tax and more worker-owned businesses. She also insisted on being available to the people.

“My phone number is already out there for people to reach me," Seals said. "You can reach me at the office, you can reach me on my cell phone, you can reach me on Facebook.”

And Independence candidate Quante Wright, a former gang member who turned his life around, used medieval rhetoric to say Syracuse is in a dark age and needs a man or woman of God to lead.  

“Individuals say separation of church and state, I disagree with that," Wright said. "We need a leader with a vision that can bring us out of these dark ages.”