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Politics and Government

Meet the candidates running for Syracuse mayor: Janet Burman

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Ellen Abbott
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WRVO News (file photo)

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 is being featured throughout this week continuing today with one of the city’s two Republican candidates: Janet Burman.

Janet Burman says her time in workers’ compensation, learning to provide people with the most help while minimizing cost, has equipped her to be Syracuse’s next mayor.

“I am running for mayor because of all the choices available to the voter, I think I can do the best job,” she said.

This isn't Burman's first political go-around. She previously ran against Rachel May to represent the 53rd District of the New York State Senate.

Burman, who lives on James St., said that she’s been very disappointed with the performance of Walsh’s administration these past few years. 

“My major disagreement with Mayor Walsh is that he has not identified appropriate priorities for city government,” she said. 

She says the city’s top priority, hands down, should be public safety.

PUBLIC SAFETY

“It is the ultimate responsibility of government to protect its citizens,” said Burman, who has made public safety the centerpiece of her campaign. 

She said that building relationships between police officers and the community is key to safer streets, but that it’s only possible with more officers. 

“When you have too few police, they are forced into patrolling in their vehicles, and they don't have the opportunity to be on the street and connecting with the neighbors, neighborhoods and the local businesses,” said Burman.

Currently, the city has roughly 370 police officers. Burman would like to get that number up to 500. She says beefing up the police corps in the city will take up the bulk of the $123 million Syracuse is receiving from the American Rescue Plan. 

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

With the remaining American Rescue Plan funds, Burman would also like to build a new fire house on the city’s East Side once the I-81 viaduct is removed and put more funding into the fire department and emergency services.

“So to the extent that we need to tap into those funds to help us meet the financial obligations to provide adequate public safety, police and fire services, we need to do so,” she said.

Burman said if there’s anything left after that, she plans to address Syracuse’s water system.

“We need to take the remaining funds from this federal windfall that we are currently receiving and use that towards making improvements in our water system,” she said. Burman says the city’s water system from Skaneateles Lake to inner city water pipes, she wants to see a complete upheaval of the current system.

She would also like to address some essential city services like trash and snow removal during her time in office, once she takes care of her big ticket items.

One thing Burman says she would not spend money on is a basketball mural.

“It's a luxury that we cannot afford in the short run with regards to government spending,” she said.

The basketball mural, which was originally supported by Mayor Walsh and approved by the Common Council, was eventually vetoed by Walsh himself amid public backlash.

She said, as an artist herself, she has a deep appreciation for the arts, but that can be funded by nonprofits, not the city.

“While we are facing so many serious quality of life issues within our city, we simply cannot afford to dedicate funds to providing public art,” she said.

HOUSING

In terms of housing, which has been a significant priority of the other candidates, Burman said having more proactive code enforcement is integral to ensuring Syracuse residents have quality affordable housing.

“I don't think we've been proactive enough in terms of code enforcement,” she said.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS STATUE

Burman has also been very critical of Walsh’s handling of the Christopher Columbus statue.

“I think it was abhorrent for Walsh to even raise the question in the middle of a public health crisis,” she said.

She also disagrees altogether with Walsh’s decision to remove the statue.

“I believe that respect for the citizens that donated their nickels and dimes back early in the 20th century, requires that we maintain that magnificent piece of art in our city,” said Burman, who added that Native Americans should have a chance to erect their own statue.

Burman said Syracuse has a long way to go before it’s a safe and desirable place for people to settle, but that she’s the person to take on the responsibility of overseeing its improvement.

“I would like for the public to know and be aware of my experience with leading through crisis, and leading through major transitions, both of which we will continue to face in our city,” said Burman.

Jannet Burman is the last of the four candidates that will be in next week’s primaries. Tune in Friday, June 18 to hear from Mayor Ben Walsh on why he should be reelected. You can find all of the stories in our series here.