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Democrat Khalid Bey would focus on 'everyday life' if elected Syracuse mayor

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Ellen Abbott

There’s a three-way race for mayor of Syracuse this year. Incumbent mayor Ben Walsh is again running as an independent candidate. Challenging him are Democrat Khalid Bey, and Republican Janet Burman.

If elected, Bey would be the first African American mayor in the city of Syracuse.

Bey was raised by a single mother in a Syracuse housing project. His career in politics started as an aide in the State Senate, leading to a 10-year career on the Syracuse Common Council. To understand what a Bey administration would look like, he says search no further than his council record. That record has included pushing for things like disorderly house and rental Inspection ordinances and the Ban the Box measure.

"A lot of the things I’ve done legislatively I think demonstrate an organic understanding of what the demands are and what people want,” said Bey. “I make the case I’m an everyday person like every other citizen. Big ideas are great, but often don’t speak to the issues. They don’t help us pay our mortgage, our rent, our taxes."

It’s getting down to everyday life in the city that Bey says would be the cornerstone of his administration. For example, when it comes to crime. He supports a community policing model as well as creation of a community volunteer patrol.

“If a person who would be a wrong actor knows that there are nosy neighbors with walkie-talkies walking around, the likelihood is they’ll go somewhere else to do what they do,” he said. “To create deterrence is a great way to remove crime from neighborhoods and restore quality of life."

Bey’s views on housing also stay on the street level. He prefers clustered development, improving one street at a time, which could ultimately create more opportunities and thriving neighborhood business corridors.

"You do McClure Street on the southside, you do another street on the near north side. You do parts of Fayette on the East side, you go to Shonnard Street on the West side,” he said. “You begin to resurrect these clusters and make these neighborhoods more viable."

Bey says it’s what Syracuse residents see when they look out their window that he wants to improve. And he says that’s something that can’t be done with big ideas like building an aquarium in Syracuse.

"But then I return back to my home. Where it may not be safe in the street, or I’m worried about somebody trying my doorknob at night. Or I’m worried about trash littered all over the place. Or there’s unemployment or despair in my neighborhood,” he said. “That temporary fix for excitement doesn’t fix the many days I have to live with the kind of uncertainty with my neighborhood and my community. So what do we do to work that?"

Early voting is already underway for this year’s election, and runs through October 31. Election Day is November 2.

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.