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After primary upsets, some new, diverse candidates running for Syracuse council

Chol Majok, Rita Paniagua Facebook
Chol Majok and Rita Paniagua.

Most of the seats on the Syracuse Common Council are up for election this year. After a couple of upsets in the June primary, some new faces with diverse backgrounds are making bids for the positions. 

Voters in Syracuse will pick two councilor-at-large candidates this year. Michael Greene is the Democratic incumbent. Rita Paniagua, a Syracuse commissioner of education, beat out the other incumbent, former Syracuse police chief, Steven Thompson, in this year’s Democratic primary. Paniagua, who is from Puerto Rico, said she would bring a different perspective to the council, and wants to focus on education, economic development, and local hiring on construction projects like I-81.

“We really need to make sure we have prepared local talent to be able to employ our own," Paniagua said. "I also support things like community-based benefit agreements. Our community needs to have a voice when decisions are being made that are impacting the communities that they live in.” 

Paniagua and Greene are running against Republicans Jason Zeigler and Norm Snyder, Frank Cetera of the Greene Party and Thomas Babilon on the Libertarian Party line.

As for the district races, Chol Majok, a former refugee from South Sudan, who worked in the previous Syracuse mayor, Stephanie Miner’s administration, also defeated 3rd District incumbent Councilor Bryn Lovejoy-Grinnell in the Democratic primary. Majok said he wants to build better law enforcement and community relations.

“Making sure that the law enforcement is looking like the people they serve," Majok said. "And if not, that there is a cultural competency. To build a culture where the people that are being served do not look at law enforcement as the other, but as one of them.”

Emad Rahim, who is originally from Cambodia, is on the Working Families and Independence Party lines for that race.

Democrat and former Syracuse councilor Pat Hogan is the party’s choice to fill the seat Councilor Chad Ryan is stepping down from. Hogan's challengers are Bill Bass on the Green Party line and William Martin on the Libertarian line.

The council’s only Republican, Joe Carni, will face another refugee, Jay Subedi who is from Bhutan, on the Working Families line.

Election Day is November 5th, but early voting has already begun.

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.