CNY Solidarity Coalition

Questionnaire for the Next Mayor of the City of Syracuse

This survey was created by a group of community organizations that organized candidate forums for candidates in local elections earlier this summer. We believe that democracy requires an informed electorate and candidates who are accountable to those who elect them. The primary organizations involved are the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), CNY Solidarity Coalition, Greater Syracuse HOPE, National Action Network (NAN), Parents for Public Schools, and Syracuse Community Connections. We have consulted with a variety of other organizations and individuals in creating this questionnaire.

The survey contains over 100 questions grouped into eight categories. It was sent to all the mayoral candidates in late July and we followed up after the initial deadline to seek full participation. Unfortunately, Republican candidate Laura Lavine DID NOT to respond to the survey. While we would prefer to include her responses to these important issues facing our city, we believe her choice not to participate provides important information to the people who will choose the next Mayor.

You can view and download the full PDF file here, or simply scroll down to see the candidates’ responses.

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Building Democracy/Electoral Reform

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Oppose the consolidation of the Syracuse City government as part of a new municipal government as proposed by the Consensus Report. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
2. Hold regularly-scheduled, well-publicized community meetings in the city’s various neighborhoods to hear feedback from residents. Publicize these meetings through grassroots and community outreach, ie not just through the media and TNT. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
3. Support the reformed TNT 501(c)3 organization through continued funding at current level, access to city departments and leadership, and a legitimate role in city planning decisions. Yes   X Yes         X
a. Provide increased city budget funds to TNT for use in participatory budgeting practices (currently known as “Special Projects”), enabling residents to have more direct control over spending. Yes     Yes         X
b. Encourage Common Councilors to attend monthly TNT meetings relevant to their districts. Yes     Yes     Yes    
c. Support appropriate city personnel to attend TNT meetings related to issues within their purview with power to act. Yes     Yes     Yes    
4. Lead an effort to institute contribution limits for city campaigns and a small-donor matching system, similar to the one in New York City, where small contributions are matched by a certain amount in order to amplify the contributions of small donors and increase the voice of every day Syracuse residents in the election process. Yes   X Yes         X
5. Support charter reform to increase democracy:  
a. Replace the winner-take-all system in Common Council voting with proportional representation in order to give all political viewpoints representation.” Yes     Yes     Yes   X
b. Institute instant runoff voting for mayor and other citywide offices; voters list their preferred candidates to eliminate the problem of spoilers and voting for the lesser evil. Yes     Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Building Democracy/Electoral Reform >>


Criminal Justice/Policing

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Instruct the Chief of Police to develop a renewed emphasis on community policing—working with members of the community to adopt problem-solving techniques to reduce crime. The key to any community policing initiative is developing relationships of trust and respect between the police and the community. As Mayor, I will direct the Chief of Police to have SPD conduct a meeting in each of the city’s 26 neighborhoods during the first year of my administration. The meetings will introduce the chief, first deputy chief, and heads of key divisions—such as patrol, special investigations, CID policing division, and crime reduction team—to the neighbors, as well as enable the police to begin to hear of the specific public safety concerns in each neighborhood. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
2. Instruct the police department to prepare a study on the feasibility of adopting some of the most promising community policing strategies from other cities, such as San Antonio’s Fear Free Environment Unit, Wichita’s neighborhood mediation initiative and New Haven’s officer training program that supplements traditional policing skills with a dynamic roster of additional skills and knowledge. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
3. Publicize the analysis of the findings of Center for Court Innovations studies addressing racial disparities through the system, develop strategies to remedy the system, and implement recommended remedies. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
4. Oversee and fund a major initiative to recruit, support and place officers of color on the police force. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
5. Require the Chief of Police to institute meaningful cross-cultural training for law enforcement personnel on police/community relations and interactions. The training should include meaningful participation by community residents and include (but not be limited to) representatives of racial/ethnic communities, refugees, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community. Make it clear that sergeants and lieutenants have primary responsibility for ensuring that officers in the field act in a non-biased manner and maintain professional demeanor at all times. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
6. Instruct the police chief to revise and enhance the SPD use of force policy to instruct officers to use only necessary and minimal force and to de-escalate conflicts when resistance is reduced. Hold officers accountable for unnecessary or excessive uses of force. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
7. Instruct the police chief to hold all sergeants and lieutenants accountable for correcting officers under their command for misconduct in the field, including use of force and demeanor. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
8. Instruct the police chief to use discipline up and down the chain of command to address officer misconduct issues, including use of force and demeanor. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
9. Develop a system of true police accountability (when they are wrong, call them to account). It’s ultimately up to the mayor to reign them in and force professional conduct and respect for citizen dignity to be the norm. This should include police respect for traffic laws. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
10. Instruct the police chief to cooperate fully with the CRB in its investigations and requests for information. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
11. Instruct the police chief to analyze delays in response time for lower priority calls across all city neighborhoods. Use the resulting information to ensure that all city neighborhoods are effectively and fairly served by the SPD. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
12. Maintain the City’s and law enforcement’s current commitment to decline assistance to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to identify, seek or detain non-citizens for alleged non-criminal immigration violations. Develop policy for all requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency for cooperation or coordination with the Syracuse Police Department be personally assessed by the Chief of Police or designee. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
13. Work with the County to ensure that a bail fund is available to indigent people such as Jail Ministry’s Bail Expediter Program and provide funds to supplement what is provided by the county. Yes   X Yes         X
14. Make enforcement of laws on possession and use of illegal drugs the lowest priority for law enforcement. Prioritize enforcement of crimes against people and property, including those involving illegal substances. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
15. Instruct the police chief to establish a full review of SPC policies that includes collaboration with and input from representatives of diverse community groups, including (but not be limited to) representatives of racial/ethnic communities, refugees, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community. The Bridges Program in Camillus provides a useful model for such a program. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
16. Instruct the police chief to make public access to filing complaints with the Office of Professional Standards (previously Internal Affairs Division) simpler and less intimidating. Yes     Yes     Yes    
17. Advocate for the full implementation of court order stopping solitary confinement of youth in jail and prison. Yes     Yes     Yes    
18. Advocate for decreasing solitary confinement for adults with special needs, including adults with disabilities, health needs and mental health needs. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
19. Provide leadership to urge the U.S. Congress to initiate a comprehensive review of the federal War on Drugs, specifically the racist way that it is implemented, with the goal of ending this failing war in favor of a harm-reduction model. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
20. Instruct the police that protecting free speech-related activities is an important part of their job and, therefore, community organizations should not be charged for police services for such events. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
21. Maintain a clear distinction between the Syracuse Police Department and the military. The SPD should focus on community policing and not evolve into a military force using military equipment, military tactics and a military mindset. Yes     Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Criminal Justice/Policing >>


Economic Justice/ Job Development

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Commit to following through with implementation of the City’s Comprehensive Plan: 2040, including the ReZone Syracuse project, I will direct the City Planning Department to work more closely with grassroots community groups to craft a more detailed and progressive plan than the current one. This project will make the city’s planning and development regulations more clear, progressive, user-friendly, and will promote sustainable development patterns that make the community more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
2. Require that all financial assistance from the city of Syracuse for development projects be contingent upon the following actions of the developer:  
a. all jobs created pay a Living Wage, Yes     Yes     Yes   X
b. all development projects incorporate environmentally responsible and energy conservation design principles, Yes     Yes     Yes   X
c. all common space in the developments will be areas that respect constitutional free speech and assembly rights, and Yes         X Yes   X
d. the developer will negotiate in good faith on a community benefits agreement. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
3. Promote an inclusive city economy by:  
a. Monitoring, reporting and enforcing the inclusion goals (see next line) written into Syracuse Resident Employment and the M/WBE ordinances. The residency goal is 20%; the M/WBE ordinance has four goals: the MBE goal is 12%; the WBE goal is 8% and the EEO workforce goal for minorities is 10% and for women it is 10%. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
b. Helping contractors awarded city contracts to comply with the above city ordinances by identifying a ready workforce and M/WBE sub-contractors through a maintained city workforce database and an M/WBE registry. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
c. Increase the staff for the Office of Minority Affairs (currently one person) so that these ordinances are enforced and the workforce database and M/WBE registry are maintained. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
d. Establish similar enforceable goals as listed above on SIDA projects that have tax exemption packages over $5 million. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
e. Expand the use of LCPTracker and B2GNow (the city uses them on the ordinances listed above) by monitoring workforce and M/WBE inclusion on all SIDA projects that receive a PILOT. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
4. Prepare a city department-wide report on procurement needs, detailing the costs and opportunities on purchasing from local businesses. Increase efforts to promote local businesses as a way to strengthen the economy. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
5. Maintain and support the City’s Office of Innovation at City Hall. Finding creative new solutions to major community challenges is crucial for the city’s long-term success and quality of life, and to remaking city government as a more efficient, progressive and modern organization.     X Yes     Yes   X
6. I will work with the Chair of the Onondaga County Legislature to draft an agreement that will resolve the ongoing conflict between SIDA and OCIDA, ending the practice of IDA shopping by developers. I will negotiate a plan that protects the interests of city residents. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
7. Analyze salaries within city government for gender equity, and develop a plan for redress if inequities are uncovered. Use this process to support a broader call for pay equity for women and people of color. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
8. Stipulate that any project which uses public funds for development guarantee to institute the least restrictive “time, place, manner” regulations possible for any free speech related activity. Yes         X Yes   X
9. Create an Action Plan to reduce community violence and support the efforts of agencies to engage in the issue. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
10. Create a “one-stop shop” attitude in the city’s Economic Development assistance operations. Information on planning and zoning requirements, other required paperwork and all economic development funds and other county and regional agencies will be made available. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
11. Focus the attention of the Economic Development Department on helping to create local businesses and helping existing local businesses expand. I will direct the Economic Development Department to work with SBDC, SSIC, Tech Garden and others to provide the kind of support that will grow our area’s small locally owned businesses. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
12. Support the development of worker and employee-owned enterprises; with special focus on encouraging businesses facing the impending baby boomer business ownership transition to sell to current employees as cooperatives. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Economic Justice/ Job Development >>


Education / Youth Development

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Recognize that all school children need a safe method of getting to school and support the Two Miles Too Far Campaign recommendation to reduce the walking distance for city school children to 1 mile. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
2. Advocate for transportation to city-wide, all-day pre-k for all children. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
3. Mobilize the common council and the community to support our schools. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
4. Support the continuation of the Order of Assurance provisions between the Attorney General and the School School District after the initial order expires. Yes     Yes     Yes    
5. Work together with the Common Council, the School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, CENTRO, and NYS legislative leaders to achieve the above goals. Yes     Yes     Yes    
6. Work with the School Board and Superintendent’s office to assure that Syracuse high school students have full access to balanced information regarding war and military service, recognizing that participation in war is a life-changing decision and that low-income youth are particularly targeted by military recruiters. Work to ensure that no Syracuse youth feels forced to join the military for economic reasons. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
7. Lead the Joint Schools Construction Board to move ahead expeditiously on school renovation projects. Engage the whole community by proactively providing accurate information and honestly responding to the community’s concerns and suggestions. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
8. Work with the business and labor communities to provide more vocational and hands-on education for young people, including summer jobs, internships, and job shadowing opportunities. Coordinate such efforts with the school board. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
9. Create an Action Plan to reduce community violence and support the efforts of agencies to engage in the issue. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
10. Keep parks open later in the evenings, extend open times for pools and encourage use as a way to encourage positive park usage, bring people into the parks; and create safety at all sites. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
11. Work with school officials to pressure New York State to provide fair and adequate funding to the Syracuse City School District and other high-needs, underfunded districts. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Education / Youth Development >>


Sustainability / Environment

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Provide leadership on Green Jobs for All programs which employ local and low income people and includes a youth component. Use best practices from other cities to incubate and launch green job training programs in collaboration with area community colleges, BOCES, CNY Works, and community-based workforce development groups in the following areas:  
a. deconstructions & green building practices,” Yes     Yes     Yes   X
b. recycling, Yes     Yes     Yes    
c. renewable energy installation, Yes     Yes     Yes   X
d. urban agriculture, Yes     Yes     Yes   X
e. landscaping and green infrastructure development. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
2. Develop new efforts to reduce litter, including a public relations campaign. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
3. Develop a campaign to stop engine idling of buses and cars throughout the city, with a particular focus on schools. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
4. Push for a full and thorough cleanup of Onondaga Lake with the Onondaga Nation being a full partner in that process, recognizing that further cleanup is required. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
5. Appoint environmental and social justice advocates to the OCCRA Board in order to expand recycling and composting initiatives. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
6. Prioritize recycling in all City offices and facilities, including SCSD. Provide recycling opportunities in all key public transit, park, and business development zones. Mandate commercial/industrial sector to report recycling/disposal figures. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
7. Work with New York State to restrict sales of products that  
a. can’t be recycled or safely disposed of by OCCRA, and Yes     Yes     Yes    
b. pull excessive amounts of energy and overburdening our power grid. Yes     Yes     Yes    
8. Empower the Sustainability Coordinator to lead and coordinate the City’s efforts to  
a. reduce energy consumption,” Yes     Yes     Yes   X
b. improve our environment, Yes     Yes     Yes   X
c. explore profitable avenues for carbon-neutral and zero-waste City initiatives, and Yes     Yes     Yes   X
d. reach the standards of sustainability envisioned in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
9. Support the creation of a municipal public power authority to provide affordable power to city residents and businesses. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
10. Prioritize and implement a property tax rebate for renewable energy generation for homeowners and businesses. Revamp Codes & Zoning, and their enforcement policies, to become friendly to urban-scale energy generation (sun, wind, geothermal). Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
11. Require landlords to remediate lead paint hazards in rental properties using lead safe work practices and trained/certified contractors. Childhood lead poisoning is an entirely preventable environmental illness. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
12. Retrofit the least energy efficient and/or poor Indoor Air Quality city-owned buildings. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
13. Support the Park Conservancy’s work to create partnerships between the City and residents wanting to support city parks and green spaces. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
14. Eliminate use of pesticides in all City Parks, including the Mills Rose Garden. Yes     Yes         X
15. Require groups using city parks to aim for zero waste resulting from their events. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
16. Prioritize funding and space use for urban forestry and community gardens. Design green spaces to lessen the heat island effect and encourage a feeling of community. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
17. Investigate the creation of a citywide education and awareness campaign to encourage Syracusans to live safely and responsibly alongside wildlife, similar to the WildlifeNYC program implemented by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Sustainability / Environment >>


Housing / Community Development

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Continue financial support of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
2. Update and enforce the City’s Vacant Property Registry and Rental Registry ordinances to promote accountability for all property owners in the city, and make Syracuse homes more healthy and safe. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
3. Require all new houses constructed with government funding in Syracuse to be designed to accommodate people with disabilities with basic visitability: a no-step entrance, 36 inch wide doorways, a first floor bathroom–so as not to exclude people with physical disabilities. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
4. Give CDBG funding preference to housing developers who are committed to renovating homes so they are visitable. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
5. Conduct an assessment study on the effectiveness of the current Code Enforcement system. The study should focus on the delays from citation to court case, whether a fine system results in actual repairs and the adequacy of staffing in both Code Enforcement and the Law Department. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
6. Continue to support efforts to assure that fresh, affordable foods are available to residents in all city neighborhoods. Yes     Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Housing / Community Development >>


Racial / Social / Economic Injustice

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Institute a city hiring plan that mandates active recruitment of people of color. Yes   X Yes         X
2. Join with the Onondaga Nation in their call for justice and reconciliation and work with leaders of this sovereign nation to redress the injustices which they have experienced for generations. Yes     Yes         X
3. Support the right of all people to be in the city and on the streets (including homeless people, youth and people of color). Yes     Yes         X
4. Enforce the City’s living wage ordinance and expand it to cover additional contractors who work with the City. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
5. Insist that prevailing wages be paid for all city projects. Yes     Yes     Yes    
6. Continue Mayor Miner’s public commitment to maintain Syracuse as a Sanctuary City where all people are welcome and given equal rights and protections. Yes         X Yes   X
7. Join with other elected officials to stand up for the rights of all people and to hold elected officials accountable for their abuse of power, from the local level up to the President. Yes     Yes     Yes    
8. Actively promote the Community Grid option to replace I-81 in downtown Syracuse, recognizing that this is a social and racial justice issue. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
9. Establish a non-partisan citizen panel (including diverse stakeholders in the community) to assess the dangers associated with the use of drones at Hancock Field including the effect on the safety in the civilian airspace and their related effect of making Syracuse a direct player in the U.S. Wars in the Middle East. The committee’s report and recommendations would go to the Mayor and the Common Council for review and appropriate action. Yes     Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Racial / Social / Economic Injustice >>


Transportation and Infrastructure

Howie Hawkins Ben Walsh Juanita Perez Williams
Question Yes No Comment Yes No Comment Yes No Comment
1. Assist Centro to develop stronger and broader bus service with input from school district, businesses and workforce development. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
2. Prioritize funding and assist Centro to receive State/Federal funds for the installation of covered bus shelters throughout most bus routes. This will include a rain/snow shelter, seating and LED signpost providing up-to-date information on arrival/departure times for each bus route. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
3. Extend the creek walk into the Southside. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
4. Implement the new Syracuse zoning plan and include public rights-of-way in order to ensure the Complete Streets policy in Syracuse’s Comprehensive Plan is implemented in city planning. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
a. Create pedestrian friendly streets and slow down traffic, particularly near schools, parks and in business districts. Yes     Yes     Yes   X
b. Change policies related to sidewalks to ensure funds are available to repair or replace sidewalks and remove snow as needed to ensure public safety. Yes   X Yes     Yes   X
5. Initiate a comprehensive City Plan in an open, inclusive, community-based format, including long-term analysis of infrastructure needs and problems.       Yes     Yes    
6. Authorize funds for a technical and financial feasibility study to create a municipal broadband service, including a full audit of the Spectrum Cable system, as authorized by federal law, in order to determine its value (for possible purchase). If purchasing the system is not possible, re-negotiate the cable franchise agreement to provide increased Public, Educational and Government programming (with updated facilities/equipment for community organizations to use), and free wifi in public spaces. Yes   X Yes     Yes    
7. Ensure staff complete an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan for the City of Syracuse. Yes     Yes     Yes    
8. The new Syracuse zoning plan should be addressing issues such as creating locally grown food sites, useful transportation routes, and working to create safe, healthy and accessible neighborhoods according to its listed objectives. Based on what is written so far, it does not have specific language addressing this nor specifically referring to national best practice standards. Is this acceptable to you?   No     No   Yes   X
9. Ensure adequate staffing in the codes, corporate counsel and law enforcement departments and advocate for additional housing court calendars to insure the current housing and certificate of use legislation is enforced. Yes     Yes     Yes   X

View Comments Submitted by the Candidates on Transportation and Infrastructure >>

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