First independent Syracuse mayor elected

As election day cast across both Oswego County and Syracuse, residents took to the polls to exercise their right to vote.

D Bus owner and local landlord, Lee B. Walker Jr., lost the election for Oswego County legislator for the 15th District. The  Independence and Reform parties candidate Ben Walsh won for Syracuse mayor Tuesday night.

Walker lost to Nathan Emmons, a local Republican candidate and business owner. Emmons said his goal in office is, among other things, to facilitate communication between the city and county governments.

Emmons previously held the position of city counselor for the 3rd Ward of Oswego.In Syracuse, Walsh is not registered to a party but ran under the Independence, Reform and Upstate Jobs party lines.

Walsh claimed the title of Syracuse mayor and will become the first party-unaffiliated candidate to win the position.

Coming from a family of Republicans, Walsh himself has never registered with a political party. He had sought the Republican party nomination early in the election season, but as he was not registered, the Republican party decided not to endorse him. reported that over 4,000 votes separated Walsh from the runner-up, Democrat Juanita Perez Williams.

Williams was trailing with just 38 percent of the vote to Walsh’s 54 percent when she announced her defeat.

The Central New York city was bound to make history with any one of the winners. Walsh would be the city’s first party-unaffiliated candidate to win the election; Williams would have been Syracuse and New York state’s first Latina mayor; Laura Lavine would have been the first female Republican mayor for Syracuse; and Howie Hawkins would have been the first Green Party candidate to hold the office.

As the results came in Tuesday night, Walsh arrived at his celebration party in downtown Syracuse before the polls were set to close.  News website posted that, with more than half the vote, 54 percent, Walsh had won the election. Williams announced her defeat at her election watch party at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology at 10:45 p.m.

Far behind the frontrunners were the Green Party’s Hawkins, who received 970 votes, 4.1 percent, and Republican Laura Lavine with 589 votes, 2.5 percent.

“Rise Above” served as the official slogan for the Ben Walsh For Mayor platform, and according to the mayor-elect’s website, it is not just a saying, but a call to action.  The top three priorities Walsh focused most on as he campaigned were the enhancing  safety and quality of life in Syracuse neighborhoods, improving academic endeavors in city schools and reducing poverty by increasing economic opportunity.

Walsh’s victory means a lot for minor party members who run for government office in the area. In fact, in all of Syracuse’s history, he is the first candidate nominated by a minor party to win mayor in over 100 years. In 1913, Syracuse elected its first minor-party mayor, Louis Will, a member of the Progressive Party.

Also, this year marks the 100-year anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, dating back to 1917 in New York state. Just three years later, the 19th Amendment was ratified.  In 1965, after the ratification of the Voting Rights Act, all women were allowed to vote.

Few students showed up to vote in the Oswego State polling place. Pollsters were set up in the Oswego State campus center from 5 a.m. until polls closed at 9 p.m., and at around 8 p.m., they reported a total of seven Oswego State students who had voted for Oswego County, although numbers of students from the school who voted overall are not available.


Photo provided by Ben Walsh for Mayor via Facebook

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