The President-elect of the Syracuse Common Council says she has high hopes going into a new mayoral administration that will bring a different tone to city hall. Democrat Helen Hudson publicly supported and campaigned for Independent Ben Walsh over fellow democrat Juanita Perez Williams. She says she got to know Walsh as a calm, thoughtful person during her time as councilor-at-large, and his six years as the city’s deputy commissioner of business development.
"He's going to listen very, very thoughtfully to what you say, and from there make his choice. We've had conversations about things in this election that I was staunchly for and he was teetering against. And that's OK, because we have to figure out a way to compromise, which we did."
Hudson says cooperation is essential because just about every discussion going forward will not be easy.
"We're not going into this with a city that has all this money flowing. We don't have time to sit back and go back and forth. We're two years away from a government takeover. We have to hit the ground running. We can't be confrontational."
Hudson says they’ll be diving into the best ways to address public safety, infrastructure repair, economic development, and other tough issues. Walsh has said there’s no republican or democrat way to plow snow or deliver any other city service. Hudson agrees, and gets the feeling that millennials do, too. She heard from them on the campaign trail.
"The millennials aren't looking at the D's and the R's. They're looking at how can you better enhance my life. That's all they care about, and they're going to look to the person who can do that. I guess you could say I took my lead from them."
Hudson says the growing voices and influence of the millennials can’t be ignored. Three new members will join Hudson on the council in January. Their first job will be to appoint someone to fill her councilor-at-large seat.
COUNTY LEGISLATURE LOOKS FOR UNITY
The Chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature is hoping local election results will bring a new wave of collaboration and mend the rift between city and county leaders. Independent Ben Walsh is the first non-affiliated candidate to be elected Syracuse Mayor in the past century. Chair Ryan McMahon sees the victory of Walsh, a childhood friend, as a wake-up call for the two major parties.
"With the mayor-elect being independent, both parties can learn from some of the things he did well. Both parties need to get better at putting politics aside after election day, and moving forward, getting their message out to the voters in a positive way. If both parties don't do that better, I think we'll see more independent candidates being successful."
McMahon says the past two years at the County Legislature haven’t gone as well as he’d like, citing the tenor and rancor of discussions. He hopes Walsh’s message also carries over to county lawmakers.
"You had a guy who was talking about listening, bringing people together, and he won in pretty resounding fashion. I think we all can learn from that."
McMahon feels with Walsh as mayor, the County and City can work together on a number of tough issues that need to be addressed.
"Should the city look at OCWA [Onondaga County Water Authority] the way the county worked with OCWA. Look at economic development and some of the neighborhood business districts that have been lagging behind. Poverty is a huge issue. That's something the city and county should be working hand in hand on, in addition to other things."