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Syracuse candidates await absentee ballots in Council primary, Caldwell secures spot

Rasheada Caldwell for Syracuse Common Councilor at Large Facebook
Rasheada Caldwell, center, with supporters in April.

This week’s primary had a race among Democrats in Syracuse for two councilor-at-large seats on the city’s Common Council. Some political newcomers are leading the pack of six candidates.

Rasheada Caldwell, a long-time community activist and youth coordinator with the Allyn Foundation, dominated the field of candidates on Tuesday with over 3,000 votes. That’s more than either of the two Democratic mayoral candidates received. She’s also the mother of Rasheed Baker, a 21-year-old, all-CNY high school football player who was shot and killed in Syracuse in 2017. She started a youth organization in his honor.

While Caldwell has secured one of the Democratic ballot lines, the other candidates all came within a few percentage points of each other, and the winner will be determined by how well they do when absentee ballots are counted next week. More than 1,200 absentee ballots were sent out citywide, with over 550 returned, so far.

Coming in second, currently, is Amir Gethers, a 27-year-old contract compliance officer with Onondaga County who grew up on the city’s south side and whose family owns a funeral home. He’s happy to be in second, although a little disappointed with the numbers. He has 16% of the vote.

“Still feeling great and confident, it’s just that this absentee ballot thing we’re going through right now is causing me to be really, really nervous,” Gethers said.

He’s up by more than 200 votes over Councilor-at-Large Ronnie White Jr., who was appointed to the seat last year. White said being down 200 votes is not ideal, but he is hopeful. He says his biggest disappointment was the lack of media coverage of the race. He would’ve loved a debate or an in-depth interview.

“There’s more to a race, a candidate, than just who they are,” White said. “It’s really important what they’re going to do and I think voters should know that.”

Alfonso Davis, Walt Dixie and Kayla Johnson are all within a percentage point or two of White. Johnson will be on the Working Families ballot line. Two Republicans, Randy Potter and Norm Snyder are also running in November.

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.