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Onondaga County Democrats pushing to turn legislature blue in November

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)

Democrats are trying to boost excitement for an off-year election in Onondaga County, and Democratic state representatives in central New York want to see county government turn blue.

Republicans have ruled Onondaga County government for decades. No Democrat has been elected to countywide office since District Attorney Bob Wildridge in the 1980s. The county legislature has also been solidly Republican, despite a tilt in registered voters toward the Democratic Party in.Onondaga County. Currently, there are 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county according to county Democratic Committee chair Pam Hunter.

So state representatives, like Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Syracuse) want that edge to be reflected on Election Day.

"This is a year where change is possible, more than possible, likely," said Stripe. "All we have to do is get behind the candidates."

State Sen. Rachel May (D-Syracuse) sees an added urgency this year.

"In 2020 there will be a census," May said. "And in 2021 there will be redistricting in the county."

May said last time around, the GOP majority in the county was able to draw districts favorable to republicans.

"The last time it was done in 2011, it was done in the most egregious fashion, to draw districts favorable to Republicans," she said. "And that will happen again if we don’t have a victory this year."

One of the perennial issues in off-year elections is voter turnout. In the most recent off-year elections, turnout was only about 25%. Along with the entire county legislature, voters in Onondaga County will choose a county executive, district attorney, comptroller, and county clerk in November.

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.