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Perez Williams supporters rally near Walsh event courting Democrats

Juanita Williams supporters across the street from a Ben Walsh rally.

Supporters of Democratic Syracuse mayoral candidate Juanita Perez Williams rallied across the street from an event for independent candidate Ben Walsh Thursday. The event in the Westcott neighborhood, was meant to highlight Democrats that are supporting Walsh.

Khris Dodson of Syracuse is a Democrat who came out to voice why he is voting for Walsh. His voice though, had to be heard over a group of Perez Williams supporters chanting, "Si, se puede."

“And as a Democrat, I have no commitments to the party," Dodson said. "I am an individual. I believe that party politics do not, should not, rule the way we vote.”

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News
Independent Syracuse mayoral candidate Ben Walsh (right).

Dodson started a Facebook page called, "Dems for Ben," in an effort to recruit more followers. Walsh said it takes courage for his Democratic supporters to step out of their comfort zone. He said he is being accused by both the Democratic and Republican candidates as working for the opposite side.

“What you’re seeing on this side of the street is someone that is uniting the community and what you’re seeing across the street are people trying to divide the community,” Walsh said.

On the other side of Westcott Street, Bill McClellan of Syracuse, a volunteer for Perez Williams’ campaign said they wanted to make their presence known. He listed her career experience in the Navy and as a lawyer as reasons for his support.

“But the things that matter is that she is a compassionate, decent, wonderful human being," McClellan said. "When you combine those human attributes with the professional ones, that’s what’s critical for a good politician.”

Republican Syracuse mayoral candidate Laura Lavine condemned what she called an ambush of the Perez Williams supporters at the Walsh rally. Some Perez Williams supporters said its Walsh who is trying to divide Democrats.

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.