Primary Study Guide: Cheat Sheet on the Four Syracuse Mayoral Candidates
Syracuse, NY – The primary election is here – the day Syracuse voters pick two candidates to run against Mayor Ben Walsh, a political independent, this fall.
Two Democrats, Khalid Bey and Michael Greene, and two Republicans, Thomas Babilon and Janet Burman, are vying for mayor today. The winners of each race will be on the November ballot against Walsh.
The mayoral race tops the standings, but Syracuse Democrats are also competing in the primaries for the general city council, the 1st district common councilor and the city school board. There are also primaries for two seats in the Onondaga County Legislative Assembly.
- 6 candidates compete in an overcrowded race for 2 seats on the Common Council
- Syracuse School Board Democratic Primary: 4 candidates vying for 3 places
Polling stations are open until 9 p.m. Tuesday. Republicans and Democrats registered in the city can vote in the mayoral primary. Click here for a full list of those registered on the ballot in central New York City.
If you haven’t paid attention so far, here’s a brief study guide to get you up to speed on mayoral candidates:
Michael Greene (D)
Greene, 34, is a joint councilor from Syracuse first elected to one of four extraordinary seats in 2018.
Greene is a Cornell University graduate who grew up in Onondaga Hill. He worked in a political role at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, then for the city’s Economic Development Corporation. He moved to Syracuse in 2016.
In his campaign, he pledged to create a new post of Civilian Public Security Commissioner to carry out the reforms of the police service. Greene said he would empower the Citizen Review Board by requiring a police chief to apply the discipline recommended by the group.
He also plans to create uniform tax incentives for the city’s industrial development agency, which he says would limit the big discounts given to developers of luxury housing.
He lives on Cumberland Avenue with his wife Emily and their young daughter.
More on Greene:
- Michael Greene aims for police reform and tax fairness as part of his bid for mayor of Syracuse
- Michael Greene vows to limit tax breaks and reform the police if elected
Khalid Bey (D)
Bey, 50, has been a member of the Joint Council since 2011, serving in a personal capacity for the past three years. It previously represented the 4th arrondissement, which includes the South Side and much of the city center.
Bey was a recording artist in the New Jersey area before returning home to Syracuse and taking a regional coordinator position for the New York State Senate in 2009. He has self-published six books and has delivered speeches at educational institutions and other organizations.
His campaign focused on his past work as a lawmaker, namely his role in passing stricter inspection laws on rental properties and a “no-box” law that prohibits the city and its contractors to ask questions about a job seeker’s criminal history.
He said he wanted to reduce unemployment by creating programs that bring the chronically unemployed into the workforce.
Bey lives on Lincoln Avenue. He has four children.
More on Bey:
- Khalid Bey draws on local roots in his candidacy for mayor: “I come from here”
- Khalid Bey touts experience as he launches campaign for mayor of Syracuse
Janet Burman (D)
Burman, 66, is an economist who previously worked for the state Workers’ Compensation Board. She had previously run for the New York State Senate in 2018, losing to Democrat Rachel May.
The main focus of his campaign has been public safety. She says the city needs to hire more cops and devote more resources to making people feel safe in their homes and in their interactions with officers. It would also reopen a closed fire station on the east side.
She also blasted the current administration for failing to act quickly enough to crack down on the Skyline Apartment complex. She says the city and county need to keep a better eye on places that take public money.
Burman lives on James Street with her husband, George. They have three grown children.
Learn more about the Burmese:
Thomas Babilon (D)
Babilon, 49, is a lawyer who worked for 10 years in the city’s legal counsel. He now works alone, handling family court cases.
He drew on this experience at town hall to argue that he knows the inner workings of local government better than the other candidates.
He wants to form an auxiliary and volunteer police unit to help the local cops. And it’s not sure the city even has the power to support officers in the city – something backed by Democrats in the race as well as Mayor Walsh.
It would also merge several city departments with the county to cut costs, including parks and possibly water.
Babilon lives on Burnet Avenue with her teenage daughter who is a student at Fowler High School.
Find out more about Babilon:
- Formerly a lawyer for mayor, Babilon presents volunteer police officers, a faster-acting code officer in the mayoral candidacy
- Second Republican emerges in Syracuse mayoral race
You can also watch the Syracuse.com Mayors Debates or read our recaps at the links below:
- Greene and Bey argue over police, Columbus, and political details in Syracuse.com mayoral debate
- GOP mayoral candidates question everyone’s experience in debate on syracuse.com