Another major milestone has been reached in the Syracuse mayoral election. Democratic hopefuls have submitted their petitions to stay in the race. There are five Democratic candidates: Joe Nicoletti, Juanita Williams, Alfonso Davis, Raymond Blackwell, and Marty Masterpole. But getting enough signatures doesn’t mean they’ll all be on the ballot. Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says there are two main reasons candidates can be knocked from the race: If they failed to collect enough signatures from registered Democrats within the city, or if their witnesses to those petitions were not qualified.
"Every candidate has had a general objection filed against them, which means that the possibility of specific objections against a any candidate could come in against any candidate over the next week or so. In all likelihood, maybe one or two won't survive, but we just won't be able to tell until the end of the challenge weeks."
While parties and candidates must encourage voting, Czarny says the Board of Elections will engage with local media to remind citizens of registration and voting deadlines. Czarny is hopeful that the circumstances of this primary could motivate more participation from the people of Syracuse.
"Primary elections tend to be the most low-turnout elections. My hope is with the number of candidates and the open mayoral seat, we'll see a higher turnout in this primary than we would have, say, four years ago."
The Board of Elections has found that in years with an open mayoral seat like this one, more people vote in primaries. However, Czarny believes that political tension nationally could also contribute to greater local voting interest.
"What could be different this year is you see this wave of activism sweeping the country now. Even special elections are getting higher turnout. The increased awareness of local elections and elections in general could translate to higher turnout numbers in the fall."
One candidate who will not be on the Democratic line is Chris Fowler, who didn't submit the 1,000 required signatures from party members to secure a spot on the ballot. He recently gained the Libertarian Party’s nomination, but now must gather more than 1,300 signatures to create a Libertarian Party line on the ballot. Also running for mayor are Republican Laura Lavine, Green Party's Howie Hawkins, and Independent Ben Walsh. Primary elections are September 12th; the general election is November 7th.