Meet the candidates running for Syracuse mayor: Michael Greene
With Syracuse’s mayoral primaries right around the corner, WRVO’s Madison Ruffo spoke with each candidate to discuss their platforms. Each of the five candidates will be featured throughout this week starting today with one of the city’s two Democratic candidates: Michael Greene.
Since Michael Greene began his tenure on Syracuse’s Common Council in 2018, he’s become intimately familiar with both the city’s successes and its faults. He said the flaws he’s identified through his time on the council are a driving force behind his motivation to run for mayor.
“For me, there's a series of issues that I think have been just in the status quo when Syracuse and we haven't taken a serious look at them, and I'm ready to try to change that,” said Greene.
In preparation of the June 22 primaries, Greene published his 14-point policy plan titled “A City For All of Us” detailing how he plans to improve the city of Syracuse. Here are some of his key points:
One of Greene’s big ticket items is building up the city’s neighborhoods outside of downtown with high-quality affordable housing and investment into small neighborhood businesses.
Greene said one crucial step toward increasing the quality of affordable housing in the city is restructuring code enforcement so that there are more inspectors and the mayor has a more direct line with inspectors enforcing code violations.
“I would take the code enforcement department and have them report directly to the mayor,” he said. “I'd be directly involved in the day to day management of it.”
He also wants to create a community land trust which would give the community the power to oversee new housing developments, specifically the space that will open up from the space currently occupied by 1-81.
As violence continues across Syracuse, policing and public safety has become a pressing topic for all of the candidates.
In terms of police reform, Greene wants to create the role of Commissioner of Public Safety–which would be a civilian administrative position to design and implement police reform policy.
He’d also further endorse the Citizen Review Board to see that their recommendations are considered more heavily by the city’s police department.
Regarding the increased violence among teens, Greene believes the best thing to curb violence is offering more after-school opportunities.
“For our young people, there needs to be more community programs, there needs to be alternatives to violence,” he said. “That means more after-school programming, more sports programming, more music programming, more mentorship opportunities from older people working with younger people, and more after school job opportunities to give people economic chances other than violence.”
And let’s not forget that none of these proposals would be possible without one crucial element: money.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
Syracuse received roughly $123 million from the American Rescue Plan, and Greene knows exactly how he wants to spend it.
“You're trying to use the money to do one-time investments that will either help the city grow, or to help the city operate government more efficiently,” said Greene.
So what are these one-time investments? While Greene wants to save a good portion of the funding for future investments and expenses, he’s ready to use just shy of half of it as soon as he can.
The money he is ready to spend would go to affordable housing, grants for private housing maintenance, a municipal internet network, public works and infrastructure, and one thing that is of particular importance to Greene: a bus rapid transit system.
“25% of the city doesn't have a car. But yet we don't have a good bus system here,” he said.
With $10 million, Greene wants to reinvent the bus system to provide safer, more accessible and more efficient transportation both for the community and to provide an environmentally cleaner alternative to using a vehicle.
Another $13 million of the American Rescue Plan funding, under Greene, would go toward extending the pipe in Skaneateles Lake to maintain clean drinking water for Syracuse residents amid an increase in harmful algal blooms.
One thing Greene would not spend the federal funding on is the controversial basketball mural that was initially supported by Mayor Walsh, approved by the Common Council despite Greene’s vote, and subsequently vetoed by Walsh after public backlash.
Greene said all of the problems he’s planning to address are not new issues for the city of Syracuse, in fact, many of the solutions he’s proposing he says are long overdue. That’s why Greene said he’s the person for the job.
“I'm running to try to address some of these systemic issues that have not been addressed in the history of the last 50 years,” said Greene. “So I think I'm someone that brings new ideas and represents some new changes.”
This is the first part of WRVO's series highlighting each of Syracuse’s mayoral candidates ahead of the June 22 primary. You can find the rest of the stories in our series here.