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Bey leads by 46 votes in Syracuse mayoral primary, too close to call; Burman wins GOP nomination

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Khalid Bey on primary election night.

The Democratic primary for mayor of Syracuse is too close to call. Common Councilor Khalid Bey leads by less than 1%, just 46 votes, over the party’s designated candidate and fellow councilor Michael Greene. Bey said he remains optimistic, but doesn’t feel good about almost winning.

“I’m certainly appreciative of the fact so far, a majority of the voters supported me,” Bey said. “I’ll take 46. But hopefully when the absentees are counted, the outcome will be the same or greater.”

More than 1,200 absentee ballots in the race were mailed out, with more than 500 returned, so far. Those will be counted next week. If the final vote is within 0.5%, it would trigger a hand recount, per New York state law. If that happens, a winner might not be declared until after the July Fourth holiday. Turnout in this year’s primary was lower compared to past mayoral primaries.

Credit Madison Ruffo / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
Michael Greene.

Bey wouldn’t say if he would support Greene, if Greene ended up being the winner. Greene said he’s optimistic about his chances of winning, as well.

“We've run a strong absentee ballot program,” Greene said. “We've texted the absentee voters, we've called them, we've sent letters to them. So, we feel strong about our chances to win this.”

His team estimates he needs about 53% of the absentee vote to win.

As for the Republican primary for mayor, Janet Burman appears to have won. According to an unofficial vote tally, Burman won 67% of the vote compared to 31% for Thomas Babilon. Democrats hold a four-to-one voter registration edge over Republicans in Syracuse, but Burman believes there is a path to City Hall for the GOP.

“I need 85% of the Republican votes,” Burman said. “I need at least 35% of the independent vote, and I need 15% of the Democratic vote.  And I can win with that.”

Burman believes her public safety platform calling for more cops and community policing, will resonate with voters. She, along with the winner of the Democratic primary, will take on the incumbent, Mayor Ben Walsh, who is an independent, in November.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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.
Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.