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Syracuse primaries shrink field for mayoral, councilor-at-large positions

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner took a step toward a second term in yesterday's Democratic mayoral primary, after winning more than half of the votes cast in a three-way race for the Democratic spot on the November ballot.

"Tonight we heard loudly and clearly, that the people of this party are looking forward and not backward," Miner said.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner made a victory statement to supporters yesterday following her primary win over challengers Pat Hogan and Alfonso Davis. Unofficial results from the Onondaga County Board of Elections gave Miner 54 percent of the vote, compared to 28 percent for Hogan and 17 percent for Davis. Hogan admitted he ran an underdog campaign.

"But all that money and all that power of city hall, still only half the Democrats of the city support the administration," Hogan said.

Miner doesn't buy that math.

"I think that when you have a race with three people, and one candidate gets over 50 percent, that shows you that people are happy with the leadership," Miner said.

The big question now is whether there will be a Republican on the ballot. A judge has yet to rule on a lawsuit regarding some place holding maneuvers by the GOP, and there has been speculation that Hogan might run in the general election on the Republican line. But Hogan remained tight lipped about the possibility.

"It's not a question I'm going to answer tonight," Hogan said. "First of all, it hasn't been offered to me. I haven't talked to anyone in the Republican party about it. All that speculation has been driven by the media and city hall. And it's a question I'm not prepared to answer."

Miner says in the midst of all this, she'll continue to run her campaign.

I've been running my race, talking about my accomplishments, and talking about strong leadership; open and honest and moving the city forward," Miner said. "And that's what I'll continue to do. Other people will continue to play games, engage in sophistry, or hide the ball. I think the people of this city deserve more."

At this point, whether Hogan runs on the Republican ticket could lie in the hands of a state Supreme Court judge who has yet to rule on a whether the GOP tactics are legal. Also running for mayor in November, Conservative Ian Hunter, and Green Party Candidate Kevin Bott.

Credit Tom Magnarelli/WRVO
WRVO News File Photo
Pamela Hunter was the top vote getter in Tuesday's primary election for Syracuse councilor-at-large.

Yesterday's primary could also mean some changes on the legislative side of things in Syracuse City Hall.

Democrats have a three-to-one edge over Republicans in the city of Syracuse, so the Common Council winners in yesterday's primary have a good chance of winning the general election. The big race was for councilor-at-large, with the top two vote getters placed on the ballot. Pam Hunter, a Democrat who served on the council briefly a few years ago, took the most votes out of the four candidates. During the race she suggested that lawmakers should have their own agenda, which would eliminate some of the bickering between the mayor and council in recent years.

"I don't necessarily believe that every single thing that comes before the council, yes it should be read, yes it should be reviewed thoroughly, but if the council had it's own agenda that it was working on, then we wouldn't be in such a sometimes contentious confrontational situation we're in right now," Hunter said.

Hunter also says she's looking at a couple of big issues she'd like to tackle, including the large number of absentee landlords across the city.

"Tenants who don't have landlords to talk to,  run down houses, it's more than just a land bank seizure acquisition situation for taking houses," Hunter said. "It's really the quality of life for renters who live in the city and their landlords not being available."

Incumbent Jean Kessner has the next highest vote tally in the at-large race, but challenger Jeff Wright is behind her by a little less than 400 votes. Elections officials expect Kessner to hold her lead, unless there is a dramatic turnaround after voting machines are canvassed and absentee ballots are counted.

It will probably be a week before that race becomes more definitive. Another upset was in one of the council district races where political newcomer Chad Ryan beat party favorite Steve Thompson by 51 votes, for a seat being vacated by Pat Hogan.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.