CNY Solidarity Coalition

United in defense of our community and our neighbors

Mayoral Candidate Comments

Building Democracy/Electoral Reform

1. Oppose the consolidation of the Syracuse City government as part of a new municipal government as proposed by the Consensus Report.

Howie Hawkins

I oppose the Consensus Report governance proposal. It disempowers city residents by transferring city powers to a countywide metro government in which representatives of city residents would be a powerless minority under winner-take-all elections. The Consensus proposal inequitably mandates that the city dissolve, but for the towns dissolution is optional. The proposal burdens city residents with a “Debt District” to pay extra taxes for our segregated schools and the pensions of former city employees.

However, I support pursuing a democratic metropolitan government based on the principles of federalism and proportional representation.

We need a metropolitan government because it is the only way we can desegregate our schools and housing, which has concentrated poverty and isolated minorities and poor people from resources and opportunities in education, housing, employment, business, recreation, and culture. Desegregation requires a metropolitan-wide school district and metro-wide housing desegregation policies such as inclusionary zoning, ending source of income discrimination (such as Section 8 vouchers) for tenants, and enforcing other fair housing laws.

A metropolitan government is also needed to enforce a land use plan to protect green spaces and stop suburban sprawl, which is intimately connected to urban disinvestment and decay. Because land use planning is vested in municipalities in New York State, we need a metropolitan municipality in order to have an enforceable land use plan.

We need a federal model of metropolitan government because both city and town residents want, and should retain, certain powers, such as making local zoning, planning, and permitting decisions within the framework of a countywide land use plan.

We need proportional representation in the metro legislative body – and instant runoff voting for executive offices – so that city residents are not reduced to a permanent and powerless political minority that would become entrenched by winner-take-all elections in the Consensus proposal, where a suburban and rural majority would have all the effective power.

Under proportional representation, each political perspective would get its fair share of power and representation. No political perspective would be without its representatives. Proportional representation would yield a multi-party system where coalitions that shift across different issues would have to be built by negotiation in order to build majority support for legislation, in contrast to the two-party system where the majority party disregards the minority party and rams its legislation through.

Juanita Perez Williams

Not only do I oppose the consolidation of the city and county government, I propose to take this conversation in a different direction where we view the City of Syracuse as one economic ecosystem and lead the discussion in opportunities for shared services among and with neighboring towns and villages. Urban governments are necessary to support policies and programs that benefit city residents. A merger would dilute services established by democratic thinking.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I do plan to hold regularly, well-publicized community meetings in the city’s various neighborhoods and I plan to do this primarily through TNT as the city’s most objective public participation vehicle. I plan to support TNT’s evolvement as a non-profit, non-partisan, independent from city hall. I want it to be a place where people feel safe to express their views in a respectful and constructive manner.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will not commit at this stage to a specific dollar amount to TNT within the city’s budget as that is a process I plan to review with the Council, but I will provide access to city departments and leadership and I have a specific plan to provide a legitimate role in city planning decisions.

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.

Howie Hawkins

While I will provide the budget and staff supports to TNT these questions ask about, I want to build neighborhood planning and participatory budgeting into the structure of city government through charter changes. I would form a charter commission to address this question as well as other issues, such as proportional representation and instant runoff voting.

My sense is that the city encouraged separating TNT into an independent 501c3 in order to relieve itself of fiscal responsibility for this neighborhood planning process. That makes TNT more vulnerable to a cutoff of city funding.

The charter changes I propose would make Neighborhood Assemblies part of the governing structure of the city. They would be like New England Town Meetings, where every resident has a voice and vote on neighborhood policies, budgets, and the election of a representative council to implement the year’s budget and policies.

I propose reducing the jurisdictions of these Neighborhood Assemblies to the actual neighborhoods with which residents really identify. Our city’s real neighborhoods are more closely reflected in the city’s 32 “Planning Neighborhoods” than the eight TNT sectors, most of which encompass many neighborhoods. My TNT Sector 8 encompasses several neighborhoods from Pioneer Homes to Winkworth that are socially disconnected and have very different issues. The 32 Planing Neighborhoods can probably be consolidated into about 20 Neighborhood Assemblies that would work as neighborhoods to which residents feel they belong.

Juanita Perez Williams

Again, I will not commit to a specific dollar amount increase to TNT or any other budget line item because that is a process of which I plan to review with the Common Council. I do support the concept of participatory budgeting and have always thought that TNT should play a larger role in the budget process. TNT should not get sidelined over a $5,000 allowance per planning area.

b) Encourage Common Councilors to attend monthly TNT meetings relevant to their districts.

c) Support appropriate city personnel to attend TNT meetings related to issues within their purview with power to act.

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.

Howie Hawkins

A matching funds system like New York City’s would be a minor improvement. I would support it if it came to me from Common Council.

But the New York City system is a limited reform. The media in New York City reports on which candidates have raised the most private money to indicate who is viable. In New York City, there is a limit on private funds that is equal to the maximum in public matching funds a candidate can receive.

That limit on private funds is not in the matching funds bills before the state legislature and congress. I would not support a matching funds bill that has no limit on private funding because the public money would then become an add on to private funding that gives legitimacy to a system that is still dominated by the private funding of wealthy interests. It would be reform that doesn’t reform.

I favor a system of full public campaign financing where candidates who make the ballot and agree not to accept private money are given equal grants of public money that are sufficient to get their message to the voters. Maine and Arizona have this type of full public financing for state legislative elections and most candidates opt in to public financing.

We cannot make public financing mandatory because of the 1976 Buckley v Valeo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. But a voluntary opt-in full public financing system would tell voters who is running with the “legalized bribery” private funding and who is running with an equal public grant.

Juanita Perez Williams

While familiar with the NYC campaign matching system, I am not sure how a system like that could work in a city the size of Syracuse. That said, I support the concept of public campaign financing to even the playing field in an era where Citizen’s United is the current law of the land. To understand better how to implement these concepts and those cited in 5a and 5b, I would propose within my first year as mayor, a blue ribbon panel on municipal governance to examine, recommend and implement measures that increase democracy in Syracuse.

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,

Juanita Perez Williams

I do support the proportional representation concept and would advocate that this issue be included in the purview of the blue ribbon panel’s governance recommendations.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I do support runoff voting for mayor and other citywide offices and would include this as well in the blue ribbon panel’s governance recommendations.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Criminal Justice/Policing

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I feel a renewed emphasis is needed in regards to community policing for the purpose of being accessible to the community that these brave officers serve. Under my administration, there will be a clear chain of command that ensures effective deployment of police officers to both respond to and prevent crime which includes participating regularly in community discussions.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am open to learning from the cities cited as well as other cities and models of community policing strategies.

3. Publize 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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I do support a more effective and humane justice system and feel Syracuse could benefit greatly from some of the best practices highlighted by the Center for Court Innovations. These changes require the cooperation and trust between the Syracuse Police and the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office as well as the New York State Court System, areas which I have much experience with will end the nonsensical relationships that exists.

4. Oversee and fund a major initiative to recruit, support and place officers of color on the police force.

Juanita Perez Williams (for questions 4 and 15)

I will work hard to build a police department that is reflective of the people they serve.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

As former LCDR in the Navy, I value a strong chain of command within any government agency, especially concerning law enforcement and first responders whose lives are on the line daily. And like the military, government performs best when it allows all racial/ethnic, disabled, and LGBTQ individuals to contribute their talents to the cause of our great city and county.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

Despite the President’s recent comment about roughing up those in custody, the Syracuse Police will continue to be a model for excessive use of force is the last resort.

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.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams (for questions 7, 8 and 9)

Again, the chain of command will be in full effect under my administration, which includes disciplinary measures for all rank and file that violate the rules of conduct.

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.

10. Instruct the police chief to cooperate fully with the CRB in its investigations and requests for information.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

A review of officer deployment for both uniformed and non-uniformed police will be one of my first tasks as mayor.

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.

Howie Hawkins

The next mayor must also urge the county sheriff to changes his policy toward Immigration and Customs Enforcement. County Sheriff Gene Conway, who takes custody in the county jail of people arrested by city police, has told the Post-Standard (May 5, 2017) that he will comply with detention requests from ICE.

The courts have repeatedly ruled that detaining suspected undocumented immigrants for ICE past their scheduled release dates without warrants illegally violates detainees’ Fourth Amendment rights. The county sheriff is not obligated to honor detention requests from ICE, which would be a violation of the Tenth Amendment that prohibits the feds from commandeering local officials to carry out federal policy, making President Trump’s and Attorney General Sessions’ threats to cut federal grants to Sanctuary Cities unconstitutionally coercive. The sheriff’s stated policy also contradicts the sanctuary city guidelines of the state Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau.

Sanctuary cities thus comply with the law – they don’t defy the law. The next mayor must urge the sheriff to change his policy because it is illegal and it undermines public safety and constitutional rights in the city.

Juanita Perez Williams

Syracuse will continue to be a sanctuary city in the sense that police will not be instructed to volunteer immigration status information to the federal INS Office and will require a judicial ruling on the efficacy of any requests from the INS or other federal or state agencies. We will share with our partners in local law enforcement governing the urbanized area.

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.

Howie Hawkins

We must go beyond providing bail money for the indigent. We should abolish the cash bail system that criminalizes poverty.

Money bonds are illegal in Washington, D.C. Courts use personalized risk assessments that consider factors such as criminal history and substance abuse to determine who to release on their own recognizance and who to detain. These are better indicators of whether a defendant is a flight risk or a threat to the public and ought to be held. D.C. courts release 85 percent on their own recognizance. 15 percent are detained as too dangerous or unlikely to return if released. 88 percent of those released appear for their day in court. Of the no-shows who are re-arrested, less than 1 percent are alleged to have committed a violent crime.

Personalized risk assessments are fairer than cash bail that punishes the accused with pre-trial detention for being poor before they have been convicted of a crime. Cash bail disproportionately harms low-income communities of color. It violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits excessive bail, and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Personalized risk assessments save taxpayers money. Most people in jail are there they cannot afford to pay pretrial bail, not because they have been convicted of a crime.

Even just a few days behind bars can cost people their job, home, and custody of their children. Pre-trial detention can cost a life. Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old New Yorker arrested on charges of stealing a backpack in 2010, spent three years on Rikers Island awaiting trial before the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence. His family could not raise the $3,000 bail. Emotionally scarred by the isolation and physical abuse he experienced, Kalief Browder hanged himself in 2015. Kalief’s brother, Akeem Browder, is the Green Party candidate for mayor of New York City and campaigning for bail reform and improved mental health and social services for people re-entrying society following incarceration.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will not commit to a specific dollar amount to the Jail Ministry’s Bail Expediter program as I will work with the Common Council on budgetary matters. That said, I support assistance in bail and legal services to indigent people caught up in the justice system.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams (for questions 14 and 19)

Mere possession of illegal drugs without the intent to distribute is and will remain the lowest priority crime especially in regards to marijuana.

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.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

Filing a complaint with the police will be made easier and more transparent.

17. Advocate for the full implementation of court order stopping solitary confinement of youth in jail and prison.

Juanita Perez Williams

I fully support the cited court order.

18. Advocate for decreasing solitary confinement for adults with special needs, including adults with disabilities, health needs and mental health needs.

Howie Hawkins

Solitary confinement is torture. It should be abolished for all, not only adults with special needs.

The UN Committee Against Torture has repeatedly condemned solitary confinement as torture that violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibition against “torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” The UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture have condemned solitary confinement in the U.S. as a violation of the 8th Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As a start toward abolition, I support the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act in the New York State legislature, which would limit the amount of time a prisoner can spend in solitary confinement, end the solitary confinement of particularly vulnerable groups, restrict the criteria resulting in solitary confinement, and create more humane and effective alternatives, specifically the creation Residential Rehabilitation Units (RRUs) that are separate, secure units that provide substantial out-of-cell time and human contacts and provide programs and treatment aimed at addressing the underlying causes of behavioral problems and at the special needs of adults with disabilities and health and mental health issues.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will examine the issue of solitary confinement for adults with special needs.

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.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

Our first amendments right to speech will be supported by the police department at no additional cost under my administration.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will maintain a clear distinction between the police and the military.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Economic Justice / Job Development

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will support following through on the city’s Rezone Syracuse project although I have concerns about the current zone district map in that it continues to relegate affordable housing options to a small area of the city perpetuating the concentration of poverty in this community. I strongly favor getting more input on this and other zoning issues from grassroots organizations. I am of the belief that a simplified, transparent and predictable zoning process encourages both commercial and residential investment in our community.

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,

Benjamin Walsh (for questions 2a and 8)

I’m concerned this would infringe on private property rights but I’m willing to discuss further. I fully support free speech and assembly rights on public property.

Juanita Perez Williams

I do agree that any commercial project that receives either direct financial assistance or tax relief in exchange for the creation of new jobs should provide, at minimum, a living wage for those jobs. Under my administration, we will monitor these programs.

b) all development projects incorporate environmentally responsible and energy conservation design principles,

Juanita Perez Williams

I do agree that the developer should describe their incorporation of green principles into their development plans to allow the City/SIDA to factor these plans when deciding whether public support is granted.

c) all common space in the developments will be areas that respect constitutional free speech and assembly rights, and

Juanita Perez Williams (for questions 2c and 8)

I agree that all common space in projects assisted by the city should respect constitutional free speech and assembly rights. This will be required in writing under my administration.

d) the developer will negotiate in good faith on a community benefits agreement.

Juanita Perez Williams

Depending on the scale of the project requesting public support, community benefit agreement should be considered as a condition of support.

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%.

Howie Hawkins

In addition to the Syracuse Resident Employment and M/WBE ordinances, I want to update and enforce the neglected Equal Employment Opportunity Program established by Ordinance No. 302 in 1973. EEOP should be expanded to cover direct city employees as well as city contractors, including beneficiaries of city economic development incentives.

The strengthened EEOP should include higher numerical goals that reflect the current demographics of the city for hiring city residents and minorities for city-funded departments and contracts. The current minority employment goals are far below the actual proportion of people of color in the city, which about one-third black and one-half people of color. The resident employment goal of 20% too low. Newark, New Jersey, for example, has a goal of 50%.

The Syracuse/Onondaga Human Rights Commission should renew the EEOP reports it once issued as part of its annual reports that presented the data on contractor compliance with the city’s EEOP. Tables summarizing the data from Human Rights Commission reports between 2004 and 2008 show that minorities were getting between a quarter and a half of their proportionate share of jobs with city contractors. We need annual publication of these figures to measure how well the city is doing in meetings its minority and city resident hiring goals.

Juanita Perez Williams

Enthusiastically supporting the various workforce participation goals currently codified in city law including the new local hiring and EEO ordinances.

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.

Howie Hawkins

In addition to a city workforce database to help contractors meeting minority and resident hiring goals, I would establish a Community Hiring Hall to also help the workers seeking employment.

The Community Hiring Hall would enable residents to sign up with their qualifications and get help upgrading their qualifications. Contractors and city departments would be required to go to the Community Hiring Halls as a source for qualified new hires on city-funded jobs if they fall short of their city resident and minority hiring goals from their traditional labor sources.

The Community Hiring Hall would also be a reliable source of labor for private employers. As a non-profit operation, it would be a better alternative for workers who now seek work through temp agencies that typically charge employers 25% to 75% above what the worker is paid in agency fees.

Juanita Perez Williams

Supporting the development of a ‘virtual hiring hall’ that matches city residents with specific skill sets and prime and sub contractors to assist both in achieving the city’s workforce development goals.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will look to fortify the Office of Minority Affairs and physically locate the office within the Budget Department which issues all city contracts so that M/WBE, local hiring and EEO goals are woven into each contract issuance rather than treated as an afterthought.

d) Establish similar enforceable goals as listed above on SIDA projects that have tax exemption packages over $5 million.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will appoint a SIDA board with individuals dedicated to establishing similar workforce goals as a requirement for receiving any form of tax relief.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am a strong supporter of transparent monitoring of workforce goals and believe LCPTracker is a sound vehicle to provide this service. Also, I believe all SIDA beneficiaries must agree to input their workforce into an LCPTracker as a condition of SIDA assistance. I believe this data should be live on the City’s website.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will assess the City’s procurement needs in the context of the combined city-county purchasing department. My understanding is that this union did create efficiencies but that these must be monitored. Also, I will look for ways in which more local businesses can be added to the state contract many of which, the city’s procurement needs are currently filled to ensure beneficial cost outcomes.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I support the work of the Innovation Team to date but am aware that the Bloomberg funding will end at the conclusion of the current administration. I have looked into the fate of other expired Bloomberg supported Innovation Teams throughout the country and will use these experiences as guidance for our own community as to how to transition the Innovation Team to play a permanent role in city government.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will work with the Chair of the Onondaga County Legislature to end the current antagonistic IDA relationship and look to Rochester/Monroe County as just one example of a countywide IDA that preserves city control over the issuance of tax relief for projects within the city’s boundaries without fear of being undercut by a separate county IDA.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

As a woman and a minority, I strongly support equal pay for equal work regardless of race or gender. I will initiate a full salary review of all city government staff and present the results of this review in my first budget.

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.

9. Create an Action Plan to reduce community violence and support the efforts of agencies to engage in the issue.

Juanita Perez Williams

I have already issued a plan for my first 100 days in office which speaks to the issue of community violence. I am a strong advocate for an array of gun violence prevention programs supported primarily by the Brady campaign, many of which should and will be adopted locally under my administration.

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.

Howie Hawkins

Syracuse city government is notorious for slow permitting. Delays in getting permits makes it difficult for developers, commercial businesses, and homeowners to complete projects, which have their own deadlines to meet financing and other contractual obligations. Unnecessary permitting delays make it difficult to do business and home improvements in the city.

The process now starts well in pre-development meetings of the departments concerned with permitting (including Engineering, Fire, Neighborhood & Business Development, Planning & Sustainability, Police, Public Works, Water, and Zoning) and the developer. But then the process gets delayed because one or more of the departments is slow in doing their work on the project.

The next mayoral administration should have the departments concerned with permitting (including Engineering, Fire, Neighborhood & Business Development, Planning & Sustainability, Police, Public Works, Water, and Zoning) meet frequently, perhaps weekly, to monitor progress on permitting, communicate with the parties seeking permits, and break logjams in the process from pre-development to completion for all proposed projects in the city.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will work toward a more streamlined and transparent approach toward economic development assistance that favors the establishment of small businesses or their expansion.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams (for questions 11 and 12)

I strongly support the efforts of the city’s various business incubators and will look to incorporate these efforts more fully into the overall workforce development efforts underway in both the city and county.

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.

Howie Hawkins

The city should establish a Municipal Development Bank with a primary mission of planning, financing, and provide technical assistance to community-owned enterprises with a focus on worker cooperatives. Like the Bank of North Dakota, a state-owned public bank, the Municipal Development Bank would also be the repository for city funds and participate in mortgage, consumer, and business lending.

A model here is the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in the Basque region of Spain, an ethnic minority group of 2.4 million who have historically faced discrimination from the central Spanish government. Mondragon, where the co-op network is based, is a city of of 25,000. Since its founding in 1956, Mondragon had built up by 2008 a network of cooperatives, employing over 90,000 worker-owners, in manufacturing, finance, retail, and education for cooperative members, with revenues of over $19 billion a year. At the center of Mondragon is a planning, technical assistance, and financing institution, which would be the role for the Municipal Development Bank envisioned for Syracuse. This intensive planning and assistance is a major reason why, by 2010, going back to the 1956, only two of Mondragon’s 264 businesses had failed. 90% of U.S. conventional start-ups fail within the first five years.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Education / Youth Development

1. Recognize that all school children need a safe method of getting to school and support the Two Miles Too Far Campaign recommenation to reduce the walking distance for city school children to 1 mile.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am in favor of reducing the distance in which children are expected to walk to school and will work with the superintendent to ensure safe routes to and from school for children of all ages.

2. Advocate for transportation to city-wide, all-day pre-k for all children.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am a strong supporter of universal Pre-K and will examine the transportation aspect of this program once in office.

3. Mobilize the common council and the community to support our schools.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will be a strong advocate in support of our school system and will encourage those on the Common Council to act in the district’s best interests.

4. Support the continuation of the Order of Assurance provisions between the Attorney General and the Syracuse School District after the initial order expires.

5. Work together with the Common Council, the School Board, the Superintendent of Schools, CENTRO, and NYS legislative leaders to achieve the above goals.

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.

Howie Hawkins

I also oppose the conversion of Fowler High School into the Public Service Leadership Academy with career academies for the Military and for Homeland Security. The school will now segregate students in vocational and technical career tracks from students pursuing academic tracks at other high schools. The students tracked into these programs will be disproportionately low-income and minority. All the high schools should offer all students both vocational and academic studies, without tracking them into one or the other.

The military and homeland security tracks, complete with military uniforms for those in the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, brings militarism into the schools. These programs are unnecessary for preparing students who choose those military careers. The military doesn’t need them for military training and preparedness. They are a public relations program. We don’t allow corporations to set up shop in our schools. The same should go for the defense and homeland security departments.

After my draft number was called while attending Dartmouth College during the Vietnam War, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and trained in the summer off campus at Quantico. At the same time, I opposed bringing ROTC back to Dartmouth for being about public relations, not a necessity for military training. When students graduate for high school and choose to enlist in the military, they can get their training on military bases. The public schools of Syracuse should not be commandeered for that purpose.

Juanita Perez Williams

As a Navy veteran, I am uniquely aware of the life-changing opportunities that the armed services can provide for young people. That said, no one should be coerced into service.

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.

Howie Hawkins

The $17 million tentatively set aside by the JCSB for Blodgett should be spent on the renovating that school. The only alternative to renovation is closure. It’s hard to find anyone in the neighborhood who wants that.

Blodgett is the physical and spiritual heart of the Near Westside neighborhood, which has among the highest concentrations of poverty in the city and the nation. After decades of neglect and delay on improving Blodgett and Fowler, Near Westside schools should get top priority.

The building needs another $40 million to bring it fully back. The next round of JSCB funding is in five years. Blodgett should get a generous share of that funding.

Juanita Perez Williams

I strongly support the work of the Joint Schools Construction Board.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

Having worked in the state Department of Labor, I am very much aware of the many vocational and hands-on education opportunities for young people but feel the network of these opportunities are unnecessarily opaque and unclear. Better articulating and mapping of these opportunities are key to both the program and individual success within these programs.

9. Strengthen Parks and Recreation programming and meal delivery for youth and add additional safe, family-friendly programming and activities in the parks.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will work to strengthen and expand programming for city youth primarily through the Parks and Recreation department.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

My administration will conduct a thorough review of park activity to better understand the needs and desires of residents. We will also look at the maintenance needs of parks and right-of ways some of which are maintained by Parks and Recreation, others by Public Works to develop a streamline, cost-effective maintenance plans for all parks and open space.

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.

Howie Hawkins

I will speak out for equitable and adequate funding for high-needs school districts like Syracuse. But inequitable and insufficient funding is a symptom of a deeper and more consequential problem, namely, the segregation of our metro region’s schools by race and class.

Adequate funding will not by itself close the race and class achievement gap between the Syracuse school district and suburban districts. 50 years of social science research on the determinants of school achievement have consistently shown that the socioeconomic character of students’ communities is by far the strongest predictor of achievement. 50 years of experience nationwide in school desegregation – or not – has shown that socioeconomic integration is by far the strongest reform for substantially reducing the achievement gap.

When poor and working-class children are concentrated into segregated schools, they are isolated from the resources and opportunities that middle-class community take for granted and the problems of poverty and economic insecurity negatively impact the schools. By contrast, when schools are integrated by class – which also means racial integration in ethnically diverse districts given our racialized class structure – the achievement gap between low and middle income students is radically reduced. Moreover, social science research also shows that middle-class students also do better than in exclusively middle-class schools, not only on standardized tests, but also on other measures, including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, intellectual self-confidence, tolerance, empathy, and teamwork.

As mayor and as part of the ongoing discussion of metropolitan government and shared services, I will bring these perspectives into the discussion to push for school district consolidation and desegregation. Juanita Perez Williams – I will partner with my former colleagues at the state level to ensure adequate state aid to both the school district and the city.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Sustainability / Environment

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:

Juanita Perez Williams

Despite our President’s misguided withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, I am a firm believer in the Michael Bloomberg philosophy that cities lead the way for this country in achieving a sustainable economy.

a) deconstructions & green building practices,

Juanita Perez Williams

I am a firm believer in deconstruction as a practice for reducing blight in our city and am disappointed in the lack of progress in this area achieved by the land bank. I plan to work with the land bank to help development incentives to make deconstruction a viable practice.

b) recycling,

c) renewable energy installation,

Juanita Perez Williams

I will continue to look for ways to improve the energy efficiency of city-owned buildings including schools.

d) urban agriculture,

Juanita Perez Williams

In the area of urban agriculture, I applaud the land bank model of leasing land to various community groups for this purpose. I will work toward a day when urban agriculture plays a vital role in the overall food system in Syracuse and beyond.

e) landscaping and green infrastructure development.

Juanita Perez Williams

I have always admired County Executive Mahoney’s stance on green infrastructure as an alternative to building a series of regional treatment centers throughout the city and will look for ways to build upon the success of this program.

2. Develop new efforts to reduce litter, including a public relations campaign.

Howie Hawkins

A simple by effective litter reduction measure would be to provide many more public trash cans in residential neighborhoods and business districts, particularly those like mine on the south side where many people walk because less than half of the households have a car.

Juanita Perez Williams

I would entertain suggestions on a public relations campaign targeting litter.

3. Develop a campaign to stop engine idling of buses and cars throughout the city, with a particular focus on schools.

Howie Hawkins

A campaign will help, particularly if it shows how much money people can save on gas. 10 seconds is the break even point for saving gas money.

I also support an anti-idling ordinance, with escalating fines for repeat offenders.

Juanita Perez Williams

am in favor of developing a non-idling policy in regards to the fleet of city-owned vehicles including buses that would allow the public to report when they witness a public vehicle idling for an extended period of time.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

While great strides have been made toward improving the health of Onondaga Lake one of the disappointments in that process was the involvement or lack thereof of the Onondaga Nation. I plan to meet with Nation leaders in my first 100 days in office to hear their concerns regarding the future of Onondaga Lake among other issues.

5. Appoint environmental and social justice advocates to the OCCRA Board in order to expand recycling and composting initiatives.

Juanita Perez Williams

My appointment to the OCCRA Board will be well researched and result in a strong advocate for expanding recycling options and improving recycling processes.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

My administration will ensure that all city offices and facilities, including the school district, will recycle all materials that are currently able to be recycled.

7. Work with New York State to restrict sales of products that

a) can’t be recycled or safely disposed of by OCCRA, and

b) pull excessive amounts of energy and overburdening our power grid.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will work with New York State to restrict the sales of products that: Cannot be recycled by OCCRA and Tax the current power grid excessively.

8. Empower the Sustainability Coordinator to lead and coordinate the City’s efforts to

a) reduce energy consumption,

b) improve our environment,

c) explore profitable avenues for carbon-neutral and zero-waste City initiatives, and

d) reach the standards of sustainability envisioned in the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

Juanita Perez Williams (for all of question 8 and questions 12 and 15)

I will consider the hiring of a Sustainability Coordinator either within city government or contribute to the costs of a countywide lead entity/person to ensure local government sets the example in energy efficiency including the incorporation of carbon-neutral and zero-waste policies.

9. Support the creation of a municipal public power authority to provide affordable power to city residents and businesses.

Juanita Perez Williams

I support the thorough examination of the creation of a municipal public power authority to meet the changing energy needs of the urbanized area of the county.

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).

Juanita Perez Williams

I will advocate within the ReZone process to encourage non-fossil fuel energy generation for both residential and commercial use within the city. Currently our zoning code works against these initiatives which is unacceptable in light of the current climate data.

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.

Howie Hawkins

I would enforce landlord lead remediation by requiring city inspection to certify a rental unit is lead-safe before the unit can be let out.

Juanita Perez Williams

The elimination of lead-based paint hazards will be one of the hallmarks of my administration. Lead poisoning rates among children are at an alarming rate and is totally preventable through a renewed approach to code enforcement focused on periodic health and safety inspections of all rental property. From day one of my administration this will be a priority to eliminate this scourge and ensure our children are healthy and ready to learn. I also strongly support the Green and Health Homes Initiative (GHHI) that focuses on a wide array of household toxins that harm its occupants including asbestos, radon, mold and infestation, a leading cause of asthma among children and adults.

12. Retrofit the least energy efficient and/or poor Indoor Air Quality city-owned buildings.

13. Support the Park Conservancy’s work to create partnerships between the City and residents wanting to support city parks and green spaces.

Juanita Perez Williams

I do support a Park’s Conservancy in general and would encourage a federation of neighborhood groups that take ownership of the parks that serve their area as a way to build community and save municipal resources.

14. Eliminate use of pesticides in all City Parks, including the Mills Rose Garden.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will look into the current use of pesticides on all city property to ascertain the need, risks and effectiveness.

15. Require groups using city parks to aim for zero waste resulting from their events.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

As stated in 1d, I support the land bank’s role in creating and managing urban gardens within the city. In regards to urban forestry, I believe that this is more of a role for the countywide land trust who’s mission is to place land into forever wild status. Together, both approaches work toward the same outcome of reducing the heat island effects of urbanized areas and increase the health and quality of life of all residents and stakeholders.

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 in 2016.

Howie Hawkins

WildlifeNYC is a deer management program that is at this stage mostly studying and monitoring the problem, with a deer sterilization demonstration project to see how effectively might control population. I agree with this general approach.

I would also try a demonstration project using teams of dogs to shepherd deer out of the city. I would have the program employ a broad ecological approach that monitors the impact of other wildlife, such as foxes that keep down the population of white-footed mice that are the primary vector for so-called “deer ticks” that transmit Lyme disease, Powassan, and several other serious diseases.

Culling urban deer with sharpshooters has not proven effective. Deer fertility and in-migration just increase in response to the available food supply.

We do need an effective response. Urban deer wreck plants and gardens. They increase vehicle collisions and injuries. They are aggressive toward people when protecting fawns.

I favor the employment of “Bark Rangers,” as park rangers affectionately call their border collies that chase deer out of the resort towns in Banff and Waterton Lakes national parks in Alberta, Canada and Glacier National Park in Montana. Dogs have effectively protected three commercial apple orchards from deer in Oswego County, as well as a commercial vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington. They have been used in towns in British Columbia. A stray border collie even took it upon herself to protect the American Rose Center gardens in Shreveport, La. from deer and was adopted as a valued member of the staff. John W. Laundre, a biology professor at SUNY Oswego who studies predator ecology, suggested dogs to control deer in Syracuse five years ago in a Syracuse Post-Standard letter. It’s past time to try this idea out.

Lyme disease is popularly attributed to ticks on deer. But scientific studies find no correlation between Lyme disease incidence and deer populations. Rather Lyme disease is associated with rodent populations, especially mice. Foxes, who feed on rodents, keep ticks and Lyme disease down in urban areas in upstate New York.

So I would start a wildlife management program that employs trained teams of dogs to keep the deer out and protects their canine cousins, the foxes, to keep the mice and Lyme disease out.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will investigate NYC’s education and awareness campaign around responsibly living alongside wildlife.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Housing / Community Development

1. Continue financial support of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.

Howie Hawkins

I support adequate funding for the Land Bank over the long term. I support the Land Bank as an important tool for a housing policy aimed at decreasing concentrated poverty, increasing affordable housing, and expanding the property tax base.

But for the next year, given the city’s fiscal crisis and pending reforms to city housing policies, I support Common Council’s decision to keep the $1.5 million originally in the city budget in the city’s reserve fund this year, for two reasons:

First, the city needs to conserve its fund balance until it secures new revenue though progressive tax reforms. The recurring structural deficit between expected revenues and expenses is about $15 million a year. With less than $20 million left in reserves going into the next mayor’s first budget, the city is on the brink of insolvency. The Land Bank has over $4 million in unrestricted reserves, which it can use for this year.

Second, I want to review how the Land Bank fits into the city’s overall housing policy, which should be de-concentrating segregated poverty and expanding affordable rental housing and home ownership. We need inclusionary zoning that requires new housing projects to include low-income, moderate-income and market-rate units.

I look around my south side neighborhood and see homes that should be rehabbed instead slated for demolition by the Land Bank. That undermines the historic architectural character of the neighborhood, including the beautiful interior woodwork in many of these properties. These qualities should be selling points for encouraging middle-class residents into this high-poverty area.

Instead, lots are being assembled for redevelopment as low-income housing projects, further concentrating poverty in new housing that is inferior to the structures they replaced.

Or they are being turned into side lots to sold to neighboring homeowners and landlords, which entrenches the perception of the neighborhood as depopulated, abandoned, and not worth living and investing in.

Juanita Perez Williams

I will advocate for some level of financial support of the land bank. However, that support must be in exchange for cooperation and adherence to the priorities and recommendations of city planning in an effort to properly convey property to responsible owners and developers.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

As mentioned in Sustainability/Environment-11, I plan to institute a new rental registry program aimed specifically at the health and safety of the occupants of rental housing, many of which are children. I also plan to make improvements to the Vacant Property Registry to provide a more effective approach to addressing the blight of vacant structures in our neighborhoods.

3. Require all new houses constructed with government funding in Syracuse to be designed to accommodate people with disabilitites with basic visitability: a no-step entrance, 36 inch wide doorways, a first floor bathroom–so as not to exclude people with physical disabilities.

Juanita Perez Williams (for questions 3 and 4)

I strongly support visitability mandates on all government-supported housing to accommodate people with disabilities.

4. Give CDBG funding preference to housing developers who are committed to renovating homes so they are visitable.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I strongly believe that effective code enforcement methods are the key to an enhanced housing stock and thus healthier neighborhoods. My 100-day plan advocates for a municipal violations bureau which many cities have as a more effective way of enforcing adherence to the state and local building code. As mentioned earlier, a new rental registry is vital to the health and safety of tens of thousands of renter households that are currently being made sick by their housing. I also support a more effective complaint process that ensures landlords and property owners are made aware of code complaints on their properties and allowed to make necessary repairs in a timely manner prior to initiating punitive measures.

6. Continue to support efforts to assure that fresh, affordable foods are available to residents in all city neighborhoods.

Juanita Perez Williams

Access to healthy foods is imperative in addressing the social determinants of health in all city neighborhoods. I plan to work with small store owners to form a federation of health that eliminates tobaccos sales, minimizes the emphasis on alcohol and provides fresh produce through a network of local food providers.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Racial / Social / Economic Injustice

1. Institute a city hiring plan that mandates active recruitment of people of color.

Howie Hawkins

As I indicated in my comment on question 3a under Economic Justice/Job Development, I would update, improve, and enforce the 1973 ordinance establishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Program. It would cover city departments as well as city contractors. It would expand city contractors to include beneficiaries of economic development incentives. It would establish hiring goals for city residents and minorities. It would monitor the hiring annually and sanction departments and contractors that fail to take good faith affirmative action to meet these hiring goals.

Juanita Perez Williams

See question 4 of Criminal Justice and Policing

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

See question 4 of Sustainability and Environment

3. Support the right of all people to be in the city and on the streets (including homeless people, youth and people of color).

Juanita Perez Williams

I do support the rights of all people and I am against the forced sheltering of homeless. Doing so may force them outside of the network of assistance efforts and endanger their health. However, I am anxious to get to work with the Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHC) to help fully implement their Housing First strategy that works toward ending the need for large-scale general population homeless shelters. HHC is in favor of finding and supporting permanent supportive housing with the appropriate services attached. I also support HHC’s coordinated entry policy that prohibits each agency from choosing who to assist rather than assisting the most needy in our community.

4. Enforce the City’s living wage ordinance and expand it to cover additional contractors who work with the City.

Juanita Perez Williams

My administration will continue to enforce the living wage ordinance and expand this concept as a requirement of any City support of a private enterprise whether that support be through direct financial assistance or through tax relief.

5. Insist that prevailing wages be paid for all city projects.

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.

Benjamin Walsh

I will maintain the Syracuse Police Department’s (SPD) current policy to decline assistance to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to identify, seek or detain non-citizens for alleged non-criminal immigration violations. However, rather than unilaterally declaring Syracuse a Sanctuary City I will work with the SPD, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department and other community stakeholders to develop a formal policy to determine our future status.

Juanita Perez Williams

See question 12 under Criminal Justice and Policing.

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.

8. Actively promote the Community Grid option to replace I-81 in downtown Syracuse, recognizing that this is a social and racial justice issue.

Juanita Perez Williams

I have been an early and consistent supporter of the Community Grid option to replace I-81 and strongly support the Syracuse Housing Authority’s plans to capitalize on this project to modernize and de-densify poverty in the surrounding areas as a social justice initiative.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I would support the work of a non-partisan panel to assess the issue of drones at Hancock Field but would look to do so on a multi-tiered approach that includes the county, Town of Salina and military.

<< Back to the Candidate Responses

Transportation and Infrastructure

1. Assist Centro to develop stronger and broader bus service with input from school district, businesses and workforce development.

Juanita Perez Williams

I do plan to work with CENTRO in their efforts to continually update the deployment and routes of their fleet of busses. I agree with the premise of the question that this specifically relates to bussing kids to schools as well as playing a vital role in getting adults to work both inside and outside the city. I also will provide incentives for city employees to use public transportation and help CENTRO with the development of an app that provides real-time alerts eliminating inordinate wait times at bus stops.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

My administration will work with the state and CENTRO to ensure it receives the financial support it needs for current and expanded routes and to add more bus shelters along these routes.

3. Extend the creek walk into the Southside.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am very much in favor of extending the creek walk into the Southside but am opposed to the current route it is planned to take. I feel the creek walk should “hug” the creek wherever possible and am opposed to the current plan to use West Street as the path, a far distance from the creek. The current path design also depends on the eminent domain acquisition of private viable but underdeveloped businesses, which I disapprove of. The creek walk should be an amenity for the Southside as it is to the Lakefront area. Instead it is being forced upon residents and stakeholders and is not much of an amenity.

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.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am in favor of the concept of complete streets and for reserving right-of way for that purpose but plans for multi-modal transportation must be vetted by the surrounding community and not forced upon them as some complete street projects in the past have been.

a) Create pedestrian friendly streets and slow down traffic, particularly near schools, parks and in business districts.

Juanita Perez Williams

I am very much in favor of creating pedestrian friendly streets and introducing a variety of traffic calming measures within our neighborhoods including re-introducing two-way streets as a way to intuitively slow traffic flow though our neighborhoods.

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.

Howie Hawkins

The Department of Public Works should be given responsibility for maintenance and snow removal on city sidewalks as it is for city streets.

It is inexcusable that people have to walk in the streets when it snows – children walking to school, parents with strollers, seniors, mail carriers, and disabled people with wheelchairs. On many blocks, the sidewalks are impassible even without snow for many of these people because they are in such disrepair.

The old way of fining property owners for failure to maintain and remove snow form sidewalks has been a failure for decades. The city doesn’t even do a good job of clearing sidewalks in front of its own properties. City responsibility for sidewalk snow removal is assumed in Rochester NY, Burlington VT, Fairbanks AK, and many other cities and towns. One estimate for sidewalk snow removal puts the cost at $7 to $10 per premise per year.

Juanita Perez Williams

I support the Rochester model in regards to installing and maintaining sidewalks as a municipal function and not left to the whim of each individual owner.

5. Initiate a comprehensive City Plan in an open, inclusive, community-based format, including long-term analysis of infrastructure needs and problems.

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.

Howie Hawkins

We should both: a municipal broadband system and a new franchise agreement with Spectrum to fund (not provide) Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) programming. The municipal broadband system should be a first-rate community-owned broadband system (internet, cable TV, phone) to provide faster, lower cost service than the corporate telecoms do. The PEG funding from franchise fees should go to a community-controlled non-profit organization. The competition between public and private broadband will drive better services and lower costs.

The city needs its own municipal broadband system because it has been badly misused by the monopolistic private broadband utilities, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner) and Verizon. The Time Warner franchise agreement with the city expired ten years ago in 2007. Time Warner (now Spectrum) failed to live up to its obligations to provide PEG channels and community media production facilities. Time Warner has not negotiated in good faith with the city because the state Public Service Commission routinely renews the old agreement every three months. In February 2017, New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Charter Communications, parent company of Spectrum, alleging that the cable and internet provider failed to deliver on promised internet speeds and reliability.

Meanwhile, Verizon was given permission in 2005 to build FIOS lines throughout the city without securing a franchise agreement. In 2010, after extending the FIOS triple play – phone, internet, TV – to the more affluent east side neighborhoods, Verizon stopped. The city should insist on a franchise agreement from Verizon, or take its FIOS lines in the city by eminent domain for use by a Community Broadband Utility.

Spectrum franchise fees for PEG programming should fund a community-controlled nonprofit organization that provides programming, staffing, and training in all forms of community media, including cable channels devoted to PEG programming, community radio, community newspapers, and web-based media.

The city spent over $100,000 for a needs assessment in 2009-2010, which recommended the creation of a community-controlled nonprofit organization, similar to ones that function well in Ithaca and Baldwinsville, to be funded by franchise agreements, a renewed one with Time Warner and a new one with Verizon. It is time to push aggressively for franchise agreements with Spectrum and Verizon that include funding for a Community Media Organization.

7. Ensure staff complete an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan for the City of Syracuse.

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?

Juanita Perez Williams

The ReZone process is a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-set the growth patterns of our city and to break the grip of concentrated poverty that limits the housing options of many city residents. I applaud the work done to date in initiating this process but feel that it should not be rushed to meet self-imposed deadlines of the consultant or zoning administrators. Much more public input needs to take place in a way that allows laypeople to better understand the implications of a new zoning code. My emphasis will be on allowing a wider range of housing types in more areas of the city to create and expand opportunities for all city residents and stakeholders.

9. Insure 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.

Juanita Perez Williams

Before increasing the number of codes employees, corporation counsel or law enforcement, a thorough review of our current deployment of existing staff is necessary. Syracuse has the same number of code officers as Rochester, a larger city with more effective results from its code enforcement. The same is true for law enforcement. As Corporation Counsel under Mayor Miner, I full understand the staffing needs of the current office and the areas where outside counsel would be both more cost effective and provide better service.

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