© 2022 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Politics and Government

Walsh, endorsed by Independence Party, kicks off re-election campaign, troubled by Cuomo allegations

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is being endorsed by the Independence Party as he kicks off his re-election campaign. Walsh, who is an independent, said the party specifically cited his ability to work across the political spectrum.

The Independence Party no longer has an established line on the ballot. Walsh said his campaign will start passing petitions and collecting signatures in April to get back on the ballot.

“I chose this path intentionally, knowing that it was not the path of least resistance, but it was the path that enabled me to stay true to myself, stay true to my values, and to make sure that my priority was always the people of the city of Syracuse above all else, including party politics,” Walsh said.

Walsh talked about some of the progress the city has made over the past three years, focusing on infrastructure upgrades, fiscal sustainability and navigating the COVID-19 crisis. He talked about reforming the police department, creating new affordable housing, and attracting new investment from global corporate leaders and local private companies as part of his Syracuse Surge economic development plan.

Two Democrats on the city’s Common Council, Khalid Bey and Michael Greene, who are running in a primary to challenge Walsh in November, have criticized the mayor’s plan, saying it doesn’t help people who are struggling. But Walsh said they have it wrong. The plan is his strategy for inclusive growth in the new economy.

“That’s the whole idea, is to connect people that have historically not benefitted from these investments, particularly high-tech investments, to benefit,” Walsh said.  

He said his track record speaks for itself. In his time in office, the city has acquired and retrofitted 17,000 LED streetlights.

“Any city resident can look out their window and see progress related to the Syracuse Surge,” Walsh said.

While not completed yet, he said the STEAM high school has received funding commitments and support from the state and county.

“That is so we can make sure our young people are acquiring the skills that they need to compete in the new economy,” he said.

The JMA Wireless project, a 5G manufacturing center being built on the south side, which could create 100 new jobs, Walsh said, would not be happening without the Syracuse Surge.

“The neighborhood has not seen any investment like that in decades,” he said. “And we are working with that company to ensure that we are providing training to local residents, so those jobs that are being created, which are accessible jobs, can be taken by people who live within walking distance of that facility.” 

Walsh said the city has also improved its relationships on the county and state levels. He said he’s troubled by the misconduct allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He said any allegation, like the ones that have been made, should be taken seriously, and he thinks they are.

“The attorney general, at the governor’s request, will be moving forward with appointing an independent investigator,” Walsh said. “That’s the right thing, that’s what needs to happen. It needs to be a truly independent investigation. That’s the best way we can get to the truth. That’s what I hope will happen. The women that have made those accusations deserve to be heard.”  

Walsh said he has not seen or has any knowledge of inappropriate behavior by the governor.

Republicans also selected Janet Burman as their candidate for the mayoral race.