Here comes the General Election for Mayor: Matt's Memo
Before the last moments faded for the Juanita Perez Williams victory speech the General Election campaign had begun. The Democrat utilized the primary to disrupt the process. She defeated the choice of party insiders in five time mayoral candidate Joe Nicoletti. She would become the first Latina to sit in the mayor's chair in City Hall, but that distinction still leaves the debate open on the title of biggest disruptor for this election season.
This is now a four way race for Mayor of Syracuse. In addition to Perez Williams there is Republican Laura Lavine, Reform Party choice Ben Walsh and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. Voters in the city have plenty to consider and decisions to make.
Late this morning Democrat Joe Nicoletti announced he will not actively campaign after suffering a Primary Night defeat to Perez Williams. Nicoletti is steering supporters who will see his name on the Working Family Party line to vote for Perez Williams.
The Republican Party has firmly backed their selection, the former educator Lavine. Four years ago they did not even field a candidate as Stephanie Miner easily won a second term. Going back another four years Republican Steve Kimatian won 39 percent of the vote as Miner earned her first term. That kind of showing this year could lead to a victory considering the potential divide in the four way race.
Howie Hawkins is the perpetual candidate who has never won elected office. He will raise big ideas in debates, but will not raise significant funds and is unlikely to finish in the top tier on November 7th.
That leaves independent Ben Walsh who will appear on the Reform Party and Independence Party lines. His grandfather was Mayor for two terms nearly 50 years ago. He preceded the legendary Lee Alexander who ultimately served time in Federal Prison for corruption.
Walsh brings name recognition, a large campaign account and experience inside City Hall and with community development. He also has been working for most of the year on attracting support from all comers whether Democrat, Republican or non-enrolled.
It is likely that the decisions made by Democrats will decide the race. Will they stick with the party choice? Will they go for the independent? Or will their be such a lack of consensus that they in essence elect the Republican through dividing the few precious votes.
When Stephanie Miner won her first term in office she had in the range of 12, 000 votes on Election Night. Republican Steve Kimatian earned about 9,000 votes. If the Democrats subdivide those 12,000 votes Laura Levine (R) could end up on top.
So many possibilities, all in the hands of registered voters in Syracuse on November 7th.