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A new kind of Mayor: Matt's Memo

Ben Walsh elected Mayor of Syracuse. (CNYCentral)

Ben Walsh is the Mayor who will lead Syracuse into the next decade. The night after a surprisingly resounding victory the independent candidate became the independent Mayor. If he makes a run for a second Mayoral term it would be in the year 2021. By then, Syracuse could present itself in a much different manner.

All the pre-Election Night talk was about the expectation of a close race between Democrat Juanita Perez Williams and Walsh. Not to mention Republican Laura Lavine and Green Party choice Howie Hawkins who surely would grab some votes. Polls closed at 9:00 pm. The early returns began trickling in around 9:30. With about 20% of the precincts reporting Walsh was leading, but it was still a toss up. Then the momentum appeared. By 10:40 pm I tweeted the definitive outcome. Ben Walsh had won.

He is handsome. Has an air of quiet confidence. He readily articulates his stance on all the key issues. But, his core beliefs that got him elected is the same one that he carries into City Hall. He believes in team. He believes in bringing a variety of voices to the table. He believes it does not have to be his idea to be a good idea. Walsh told us this evening his effort to build a network started years before he ever considered running for elected office.

Walsh has never been a fan of the two party system. Despite his Walsh political lineage he didn't see himself running for elected office because he was a non-enrolled voter. But, those feelings began to change when he worked in City Hall under Mayor Stephanie Miner. He worked on economic development projects in the city including revitalizing the Hotel Syracuse and building on the Inner Harbor. He received praise and gained respect. Despite his youthful appearance more seasoned government insiders realized he was sharp. A leader who could bring people together to get projects done.

As the term limited end to Mayor Miner's administration came into view Ben Walsh started to see himself as a successor. He left he could take those same coalition building skills and convert them into a successful campaign and ultimately a Walsh administration. He was right.

He has now focused on building that new team. A new police chief, a new head of public works, a new financial officer and plenty of other new faces to complement the seasoned staffers that keep government running.

Now let's go back to the year 2021. Construction will be underway on the real estate formerly occupied by the elevated section of 81. The Syracuse School District will have improved graduation rates about 70%. The number of violent crimes in the city will have gone down. Downtown living will hit a record high. People will live along the Inner Harbor and take a water taxi to concerts at the county owned Amphitheatre. And, political leaders will be getting along, working together for the common good of the region.

That kind of success is within reach. Along with the foreseeable elements of our future there are likely to be other pieces that have not been imagined yet. If that all comes together under a Ben Walsh Administration this just might have been the week that a considerable political force took Central New York in a new direction.


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