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Politics and Government

Syracuse mayor: Maffei, Katko should focus on substance

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Ryan Delaney
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WRVO News File Photo
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. (file)

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is one of the most influential Democrats in central New York, serving for a time as co-chair of the party's statewide operations. She's also one of the most outspoken. 

Miner sat down with WRVO Wednesday afternoon to discuss the city's loss of $3 million in federal funding for lead remediation from its aging homes. She discussed a number of other topics, including the increasing negativity of the race to represent the region in Congress. 

Here are some highlights:

The race for the 24th Congressional District

There are more substantive issues to be discussing in a race for Congress than what Rep. Dan Maffei and challenger John Katko are talking about, Miner said.

Maffei, the Syracuse Democrat, has been focusing on Republican Katko's record and actions as a federal prosecutor for the Justice Department.

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Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) and John Katko.

He's attacked Katko in a television ad about a gun that was stolen from Katko and later used in a homicide. And Maffei has hit his opponent for agreeing to a plea deal with the former mayor of Oswego, John Gosek, who was arrested in 2005 for soliciting sex from underage girls.

There are other issues to care about, Miner said.

"Infrastructure is a huge issue; job creation is a huge issue; health care, educational attainment. All of those things for me as the mayor of Syracuse and as a voter, are much more important," she said.

More important, she says, that what’s been filling the airwaves recently.

Miner said as mayor, she’ll continue to talk about issues she thinks are important, with hopes the candidates will listen.

Howie Hawkins in debates

Miner says New Yorkers should be able to hear more from the Green Party candidate for governor, but she stopped short of advocating for him to be included in all debates.

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Howie Hawkins

Miner says she’ll leave the decision of who will be on stage at upcoming gubernatorial debates to the campaigns, but she says voters would benefit from having the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins on stage.

"Howie is articulate, brings a point of view and has a real policy-based campaign," she said. "And I think that the voters of the entire state would be better off served if they heard more policy-based arguments and discussion in the debates."

Longtime Syracuse resident Hawkins is running for governor for the second time. He’s won support from a quarter of Syracuse residents, according to a recent Siena College poll. 

But the Republican in the race, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has repeatedly said Hawkins shouldn’t be included in the debates.

It’s shaping up now that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is willing to participate in two debates to be aired on public broadcasting. A debate in Buffalo may include Hawkins.

Water mains in Syracuse

As the weather begins to get colder, Syracuse’s underground infrastructure will again be put to the test. But water main breaks are now a year-round problem for the city.

Three-hundred and thirty-five. That’s the latest tally from city hall on the number of water mains in Syracuse that have broken so far this year. Most of those happened during the frigid winter months at the start of the year, but Mayor Miner says they continued to break.

"It used to be not too long ago, five years ago, our water mains would break in the winter," she said. "Now we’re seeing they’re breaking year round."

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WRVO News File Photo
Crews repair a water main break last winter.

As water mains broke on a near daily basis last winter, public works crews could barely keep up and costs ballooned. Miner asked the state for millions in aid to fix them. She got no reply.

Now she has another idea for funding: settlement money the state has received from legal actions against banks and other corporations.

"And I have been saying to people that that money should be dedicated to improving infrastructure," she said.

Miner says given the state’s infrastructure needs, the settlement money “cries out” to be dedicated to improving pipes and roads.