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Green Party candidates offer voters another option in Syracuse elections

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo
Green Party candidate Kevin Bott makes his announcement to run for mayor of Syracuse on September 11, 2013.

This is turning out to be a quiet election season in Syracuse despite a race for mayor. Without a Republican running against Mayor Stephanie Miner, and with Democrats having with a stranglehold in most common council and school board races, Green Party candidates are emerging as alternatives for voters in a handful of races. All three Green Party hopefuls appeared on the Campbell Conversations with Grant Reeher.

"We're independent, we're free to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done," said Howie Hawkins, who is running for the 4th District Common Council seat held by Democrat Khalid Bey.

Hawkins says that's what makes Green Party candidates different from Democrats in the city of Syracuse. The perennial candidate- he's run for governor among other things -says that independence is what's lacking in the city's Democratic Party right now.

"You saw Democrats who questioned the mayor get primaried by the Democratic Committee, Jean Kessner and Lance Denno, because they were somewhat dissident."

So Hawkins, mayoral candidate Kevin Bott, and school board candidate Barbara Humphrey say they'll bring up issues that mainline Democrats won't.

Hawkins says he believes local politicians should take on Albany and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"We've go to change the budget politics in Albany this fiscal year, or we're going to be taken over by some bankers appointed by Cuomo," Hawkins said.

Hawkins also says the state has to come through with past promises on revenue sharing to localities and allow the city to levy a personal income tax, which would provide much needed cash for a city facing financial hardship.

Barbara Humphrey agreed, saying a local income tax would bring the city and school district out of economic peril.

"Getting permission from the state for a local income tax about one percent that would be paid by city residents, and also commuters coming into the city, that would be used for both the city side and school district side," Humphrey said.

Kevin Bott, who has so far unsuccessfully challenged Miner to a debate, says the bottom line with Green Party candidates is that they aren't part of a powerful political machine.

"People who are running for office in the Green Party are by and large working people, average people, people who can actually represent the constituency," Bott said.

He says despite the name, the Green Party stands for more than just the environment.

"When I became attracted to the Green Party, it was because I finally read the platform and said my goodness, this isn't a one issue party," Bott said. "This is actually a party that reflects my values and concerns."

When it comes to issues, he supports the Green Party platform, which takes a holistic approach to some of the city's problems and  focuses heavily on job creation.

You can hear all three Green Party candidates on WRVO this Sunday evening at six on The Campbell Conversations with Grant Reeher.

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.