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Politics and Government

Syracuse mayoral candidate kicks off campaign at abandoned KFC

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene in Syracuse.

Syracuse Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Greene kicked off his campaign last week at an abandoned KFC restaurant on the city’s north side. The 33-year-old city councilor said it was the perfect context to highlight the problems facing the city.

Greene said Mayor Ben Walsh is pursuing the wrong path forward for the city and the status quo needs to change.

“For decades, Syracuse has been chasing things that are somewhere else,” Greene said. “Applying for the right accolades. Trying to lure the right corporations, the right investors to come to the city and fix things up. But in trying to make Syracuse attractive from a distance, the city has neglected the people that already live here, the people that live in this community and make it great.”

Green said his 14-point plan will improve the city; among other things, calling for a bus rapid transit system and sidewalk maintenance program, both requiring big budget investments and new fees. He also wants to expand the staff in City Hall, bringing in a public safety commissioner to lead police reform, and a homelessness program manager.

The three-year council veteran is running now because he believes this is a seminal moment.

“It’s not about the mayor being a bad person, he’s not,” Greene said. “But the city needs to reform quickly, now. COVID-19 has slashed our budget. We’re going to need to make services more efficient and we don’t have four years to wait.” 

Both Greene and fellow councilor Khalid Bey are seeking the Democratic nomination to face Walsh, who is running for a second term as an independent. No Republican candidates have emerged in the race.