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Local activist and musician Joe Driscoll running for Syracuse Common Council

Tom Magnarelli
Joe Driscoll at Syracuse City Hall.

Local activist and musician Joe Driscoll is running Syracuse’s Common Council. Driscoll is hoping to win the Democratic nomination for an upcoming open seat.  

Driscoll helped organize a large protest at Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport Sunday night against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Driscoll livestreamed the protest on Facebook. He said he has progressive ideas that he wants to bring to the city council.

“I’ve been very experienced with grassroots organizing which I think is what the Democratic Party needs right now, what the country needs right now, to do hand-to-hand meeting with people, talking with people, hearing concerns to get more people involved in the political process,” Driscoll said.

Driscoll said his political ambitions were inspired by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"I think the Sanders campaign shows there is a will in the country, that these are not far-left ideas or far-right ideas," Driscoll said. "It is not extreme. It is what most people know needs to happen and think needs to happen. We just need to get the political will together to make it happen.”

Driscoll started as a musician playing restaurants and bars in Syracuse.

He has performed on tours across North America, Europe and Africa. He lived for a time in England and France before returning to Syracuse. His songs have included a variety of political themes including water quality, commercialism, the war on drugs and immigration.

“A lot of people have said I don’t have political experience but most of the people on the council work in other fields," Driscoll said. "Very few people here are trained in being a politician.”

Driscoll is running for Councilor Nader Maroun’s seat who will be stepping down due to term limits. Driscoll has been attending council meetings in recent weeks as a spectator. But he said he is not there to be a critic and cannot judge how good a job the council is doing until he is behind the curtain.

"From sitting in these meetings every week, I think we have a lot of no-win situations, a lot of difficult situations in Syracuse."

Driscoll said he wants to focus on the city's infrastructure and schools if he is elected. He has reached out to Onondaga County Democratic Committee members to seek the nomination.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.