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Democratic candidates say they will take on Nicoletti in primary for Syracuse mayor

Tom Magnarelli
Councilor Joe Nicoletti in Syracuse.

At least four Democratic candidates for Syracuse mayor have said they will challenge the party's designated candidate, Joe Nicoletti, in the September primary. A primary could drain resources from a campaign that will have to take on a Republican, an independent and a Green Party candidate in November.

Nicoletti said he is humbled to have the support of the Democratic Party.

“Hopefully the reason the party turned to me, was because I have experience, experience of many years," Nicoletti said. "Some people will say that is a negative but I don’t think so.”

This is his fourth time running for mayor. The last time was in 2009 when he unsuccessfully challenged the party’s designee and current mayor, Stephanie Miner, in a primary. Now he will likely be faced with his own primary challengers.

“The question is, do we believe that our party and our vision will offer the best alternative?” Nicoletti asked. 

Nicoletti said he brings a history he can draw from to promote his vision for the city's future.

"I want families to tell me that their sons and daughters are staying in Syracuse because there are jobs, whether they be technology, small business or major corporations," Nicoletti said. "That's what this campaign will be all about."

Andrew Maxwell is the former city hall staffer who was a close second to Nicoletti in the Onondaga County Democratic Committee's vote Saturday. At a protest outside Rep John Katko’s town hall on Monday, Maxwell said he is still undecided about entering the primary.

“I’m taking some time to think about it," Maxwell said. "Obviously, it is a big decision and running a primary is a large undertaking and it is something I want to be very thoughtful about.”

Maxwell is the former head of Syracuse's innovation team, and campaigned on new ideas to fix the city's problems.

"I was very focused on it for a number of months and worked very hard reaching out to committee people and making a case that we have a message in our campaign that is very meaningful and is going to resonate with people in our party and people in our city," Maxwell said. "Many people on the committee felt the same way but obviously, not quite enough."

Juanita Williams, Chris Fowler, Raymond Blackwell and Alfonso Davis all said they will challenge Nicoletti in September's primary.

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.