Community Organizations' Candidate Survey can Help Voters for Tuesday's Primary and Beyond

Sep 11, 2017

Community groups held forums with candidates, out of which came the idea for the mayoral survey, which has candidate positions on dozens of issues, including comments from the candidates on specific policies.
Credit https://www.cnysolidarity.org/

The Syracuse Democratic Mayoral Primary is tomorrow, but many residents might not know where the candidates stand on the issues.  So, a group of community based organizations has compiled a comprehensive look at the candidate’s positions. National Action Network, Syracuse Chapter Education Chair Talina Jones says they’re trying to empower voters after the 2016 presidential election left many feeling disheartened.

“There was this kind of degree of, ‘that’s not about me; that’s not for me,’ and we heard that from young people all over the place during the 2016 election, that ‘this doesn’t impact me; no one is for me.’  So we had to really work on, how do we really connect the dots to remind people that his is for you because these are the kind of changes that they can make.”

The survey contains 100 questions in eight categories, and was sent to all of the candidates.  They could offer simple yes or no answers on hot button issues such as criminal justice and infrastructure, but could also add comments.  

(See Survey Results and comments here)

Jones urges voters to read the remarks for more context on the candidate’s positions.

“As you really delve into the comments, you get to see candidates’ stances and what they would really do, which is what we were hoping to get out of it and why we wanted a comment section.”

Andy Manger from the CNY Solidarity Coalition says CBOs are helping people understand the connection between their daily lives and policies that might impact them. He hopes this questionnaire will inform the electorate and will make it easier to vote.

“Part of our role is to help people feel like they do have some power to impact what’s happening in this country.  And from our perspectives as community organizations, voting is a small piece of that.  We need to help people feel a sense of empowerment and hope that through our collective efforts we can build a more safe, a more just community.”  

Mager adds the content of the survey gives the public a way to hold whomever is elected accountable on the important issues covered in the questions. 

“Regardless of who’s elected, there’s tremendous work that we can do to push that woman or man to respond to the needs of the community in a meaningful way and enact policies that will help people and build opportunity and expand options, rather than contract them.”

While the content gives local residents a chance to learn more about candidates and their positions, it might also encourage people to get more involved.  Talina Jones says if people focus on what a mayor really controls, they might get involved past the voting booth.

“Voter turnout at election time is more than just getting people to the polls.  It is actually this kind of work that we should be doing in terms of, beyond just informing the electorate.  How do you get them to be interested in these kinds of things?”

(The survey can be viewed here)

Democrat Marty Masterpole and Republican Laura Lavine did not return the questionnaire.  The groups who collaborated on the survey includes NAN and CNY Solidarity, but also Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), Greater Syracuse HOPE, Parents for Public Schools and Syracuse Community Connections.

Syracuse voters will have the opportunity to cast votes in primaries in several parties:

Democrats:

  • Office of Mayor of Syracuse
  • City Court Judge, Syracuse
  • Syracuse Common Councilor 4th District

Republicans:

  • Onondaga County Legislator 13th District

Conservative Party:

  • Onondaga County Legislators 3rd, 6th & 13th District

Independence Party:

  • Office of Mayor, Syracuse
  • Onondaga County Legislator 7th & 8th District

Reform Party:

  • Office of Mayor, Syracuse
  • City Court Judge, Syracuse
  • Onondaga County Surrogate Court Judge
  • Onondaga County Family Court Judge

Women’s Equality Party

  • City Court Judge