Help Greens Win in Syracuse


We can elect Greens to mayor and three city council seats in Syracuse, New York in this year’s November 7 elections. We ask for your help.

The Greens are running on a platform to radically democratize the government and economy of Greater Syracuse.

We are aggressively challenging the discrimination in education, housing, employment, and criminal justice that has made Greater Syracuse the nation’s #1 most segregated city by race and class, with one of the nation’s highest poverty rates and the nation’s highest child lead poisoning rate.

We are making ecological sustainability – 100% clean renewable energy, affordable public transit, lead abatement, Onondaga Creek and Lake restoration, walkable neighborhoods – central to building an economically sustainable shared prosperity in Syracuse’s depressed rust belt economy. Syracuse ranks dead last among the nation’s 100 largest cities in economic growth and 294th among the world’s 300 largest cities in the Brookings Institution’s economic performance rankings.

The Green slate is running as a team for a consistent message and to economize our resources: one campaign fund, one budget, one treasurer, one campaign manager, four hard-working candidates, and dozens of campaign volunteers.

Three Ways to Help Greens Win

First, make a financial contribution. We are counting on the small contributions of many. We don’t take contributions from for-profit businesses. We are politically independent of moneyed special interests. The corporate-sponsored candidates will spend millions between them. Our slate can win with our $80,000 budget. Please make your contribution toward this goal.

Second, volunteer to help us bring our message to the voters. If you live in the city, we need your help on the streets knocking on doors and talking to voters. Anywhere you live, you can help with phone canvassing.

Third, if you live in the city, you can put up signs in your yards for our candidates to show public support. Let us know and we’ll bring the signs to you.

Meet the Green Candidates

Howie Hawkins for MayorHowie_Hawkins_bomb_trains.png

I’m a Teamster who works overnight at UPS. I’ve run many times as a Green, receiving between 35% and 48% in my last four local races. I twice won enough votes statewide to secure the Green Party a ballot line for New York four-year election cycles through runs for governor in 2010 and 2014. The Syracuse Post-Standard used to call me the “perennial candidate.” This year they say I have “a steady base of support in the city.” I’ve been included in all the debates and receive equal treatment by the media.

I’m in a four-way race. Ben Walsh is the scion of a Republican family political dynasty, whose father was a member of congress and whose grandfather was both mayor and member of congress. He is not enrolled in a party and running on minor party lines. He was head of business development for the retiring Democratic mayor. Local developers are bankrolling Walsh’s campaign, while out of town developers and lobbyists are bankrolling the designated Democrat, Joe Nicoletti, who faces primary challenges from other Democrats. The designated Republican, Laura Lavine, is highly unlikely to outperform the 15% Republican enrollment in the city. I got 35% citywide for auditor two years ago. I like my chances in a four-way race.


 Frank Cetera for Councilor-At-Large

Frank is a business advisor and co-op developer at the Onondaga Community College Small Business Development Center, where he is a steward in his teachers union and a delegate to the Greater Syracuse Labor Council. He is deeply involved in community movements across the city, from leading the transformation of four unused Syracuse green spaces into productive fruit and vegetable gardens to serving as board treasurer of the neighborhood planning councils called Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today and as board president of Cooperative Federal, Syracuse’s community development credit union.

Frank has worked on many Green campaigns since 2010 and ran a strong campaign himself for 2nd District Councilor in 2015. Among Frank’s leading policy proposals are a progressive city income tax to save the city from insolvency, neighborhood-directed planning and participatory budgeting, worker co-ops to fight poverty and inequality, and municipalization of sidewalk maintenance and snow removal in America’s snowiest city where we average over 10 feet a year.Eric_Graf_Campaing_Announcement.png

Eric Graf for 2nd District Councilor

Eric is a 25-year-old son of Tipperary Hill, the largely Irish community that is largest voting bloc in the 2nd district. Eric announced his campaign at Stone Throwers Park, which commemorates the Irish youth in the 1920s who kept throwing stones to knock out the new stop light at the center of Tipp Hill because British red over Irish green symbolized British oppression of the Irish. The city finally relented and that corner by Stone Throwers Park today still has the world’s only upside down stoplight, with green on top.

Eric graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Albany in 2013 with a dual Bachelor's Degree in U.S. History and Sociology. He works for the Syracuse City School District where he coordinates the Homebound Program for students who must study from home for medical reasons. Eric is campaigning for proportional representation on city council, ranked-choice voting for mayor and auditor, a progressive city income tax, and anti-poverty measures to help his high-poverty side of town, including a $15 minimum wage and worker co-ops.


 Serena Seals for 4th District Councilor

Serena is a leader in Black Lives Matter - Syracuse. Rahzie, as she is known to friends and family, is running on the Platform of the Movement for Black Lives. She said at her campaign announcement that  “when all black lives matter, everyone’s life will matter.”

The issues around police brutality are personal for Rahzie. Her father, Tom Seals, was one of the first African American police officers in the city who advocated for the Citizens Review Board and later became 4th district councilor. Her cousin, Jonny Gammage, was infamously suffocated to death by police officers – much like Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014 – in a traffic stop outside Pittsburgh in 1995 while staying with his cousin and Serena’s brother, Ray Seals, a defensive end with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2016, another cousin, Darren Seals, an anti police brutality activist in Ferguson, Missouri who was close to Michael Brown’s family, was shot dead in his burned out car in a still unsolved murder, one of three community activists killed in that manner since Michael Brown’s death.

Rahzie works in the hospitality industry and operates an entertainment organization called BlackCuse Pride, which provides events and support for the inner city LGBTQ community.

The 2-Party System Parties Together In Order To Rule Together

The Green Party’s political independence is not simply that we run on the Green ballot line instead of the Democratic or Republican lines. It is fundamentally about our class independence from the corporate ruling class and its paid-for representatives in the Democratic and Republican parties. We don’t take money from business interests and we maintain our independent identity in order to build a clear alternative to the bipartisan consensus for empire abroad and austerity at home for working people. 

It was ironically revealing on the Independence Day weekend that we saw how the 2-party system of corporate rule parties together in order to rule together at the local, state, and national levels.

Locally, my two principal mayoral opponents, Democrat Joe Nicoletti and Ben Walsh, the Republican scion rebranding himself as “independent,” both paid $1,000 to attend a local fundraiser for Governor Cuomo. The Republican County Executive Joanie Mahoney attended along with a coterie of wealthy real estate developers.

Meanwhile, that same July 4th weekend in the Hamptons on Long Island, we saw Chuck Schumer hobnobbing the Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Liberal billionaire funder George Soros was there with archconservative billionaire funder David Koch. Also attending were Trump mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway, filmmaker and Democratic funder Stephen Spielberg, Trump Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, Mayor De Blasio’s top cop Bill Bratton, billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, and “liberal” Washington Post heir Don Graham. Washington Post heiress and Senior Associate Editor Lally Weymouth hosted the party.

Greens, of course, were not invited to either event. We wouldn’t have gone if we were. We are building an alternative to this self-serving moneyed establishment.

Pedicab.jpgSyracuse Faces a Hostile Takeover

I want to be the next mayor of Syracuse, not its last mayor. Syracuse faces an existential crisis. With an $18.5 million budget deficit this year, it will go broke during the next mayor’s term without new revenues. A self-appointed commission of the local elite wants to dissolve Syracuse and consolidate it into a countywide metropolitan government featuring centralized top-down rule by an upper and upper-middle class political bloc whose power is magnified and entrenched by private campaign funding and winner-take-all elections. With insolvency, a state-appointed financial control board could force the city to dissolve into the county government.

Under this consolidation proposal, the city is reduced a special “Debt District” with a county-appointed "overseer" to make city residents to pay extra taxes for their segregated schools and the pensions of their former city employees. Meanwhile, the surrounding 19 towns of Onondaga County can opt into the metropolitan government, which they won’t because they value their local powers. Governor Cuomo awarded the metro region a $500 million economic development grant that includes $25 million to promote consolidation.

Cuomo has been pushing consolidation since 2006 as Attorney General and then Governor under the rationale that it will lower the cost of government and thus property taxes. His cost savings projections on this question are as phony as Donald Trump’s alternative facts. Cuomo is actually using consolidation to centralize power in his own hands, where Cuomo’s patronage machine doles out money to state-dependent consolidated counties, while the cities and towns that were closer to the people have been disempowered. It is Cuomo’s version of Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law, used first by Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and then by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, to disenfranchise black-majority cities, leaving Flint with poisoned water, Detroit with devastated public schools, and civil rights activist Rev. Edward Pinckney railroaded into prison for resisting the takeover of Benton Harbor. Cuomo’s consolidation push is a threat to city and town home rule and democracy across upstate New York.

Saving Syracuse with Progressive Tax Reforms

Alone among the political campaigns in Syracuse, the Green Party is calling for Progressive Tax Reforms to put the city’s fiscal house in order and save our city, including:

  • A progressively graduated city income tax on residents and commuters alike.

  • The restoration of former levels of state revenue sharing to pay for unfunded state mandates.

  • Countywide property tax sharing to equalize fiscal capacities and tackle the inter-connected problems of suburban sprawl and inner city decay by making property development anywhere benefit county taxpayers everywhere.

  • Adoption of New York Health Act, the universal health insurance plan covering all New Yorkers for all medically necessary services, which would save Syracuse $80 million a year.

Green_Party_group_picture_May_2017.jpgFighting Poverty, Segregation, and Violence

To reduce poverty and build community wealth, the Greens want a municipal bank to plan, advise, and finance worker co-ops where the wealth created by workers’ labor stays with working families as increased income and assets. The Greens also want municipal ownership of power and broadband utilities in order to end the city’s abusive exploitation by giant power and telecom oligopolies and lower to costs of living and doing business in the city.  

Also alone among the city’s political campaigns, the Greens demand policies to begin reversing the housing and school segregation that isolates minority, poor, and working-class people from resources and opportunities that the middle class takes for granted. The Greens are demanding inclusionary zoning to begin desegregating housing and neighborhoods. They are calling for school desegregation by ending tracking within the school district and pursuing inter-district desegregation by race and class with adjacent affluent school districts.

With a record murder rate last year, a chronic problem of police abuse, and a police force that is 93% white and 92% from out of town in a city that is half people of color, the Greens are calling for investing in poor neighborhoods, police diversity, community policing, and restorative justice and divesting from the militarized stop-and-frisk policing in poor neighborhoods that has led to the mass incarceration of minority, poor, and working-class residents.

Building a Sustainable Prosperity

Our sustainability initiatives include replacing the I-81 elevated highway through the city with a community street grid for mixed-income, mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. We will make landlords make their properties lead-safe before renting out. We want to de-channelize and restore Onondaga Creek’s natural course, wetlands, and riverbanks to reduce flooding and enhance homes, parks, and recreation along the creek’s path through the impoverished south side. We want public power so we have the power to implement a rapid transition to 100% clean energy.

Democratizing Greater Syracuse

The Greens are calling for an Inclusive Democracy featuring neighborhood assemblies, participatory budgeting, proportional representation on legislative bodies, ranked-choice instant-runoff voting for executive offices, and full public funding for candidates who opt out of private funding.

Metropolitan government is the only way we can desegregate Greater Syracuse’s housing and schools. It is the only way to have an enforceable metropolitan land use plan that ends sprawl and redevelops abandoned urbanized zones. In opposition to the anti-democratic consolidation proposal promulgated by the local elite, the Greens are calling for a radically democratic form of metro government based on proportional representation in the metro legislature, ranked-choice voting for metro executive offices, and a metropolitan federation of city and town governments rather than their dissolution into a centralized top-down metro government.

GOTV_Lit_Drop_Team_2013.jpgTaking Power from Below

If Syracuse Greens win election and take these initiatives, we hope it becomes an inspiration for radical municipal reform across New York and the nation that can help all of us. Local politics is where we can begin to take power from below against the reactionary racism and lawlessness of the Trump regime, the militarism and public austerity of the corporate-indentured Democratic leadership, and the relentless acceleration of the climate crisis. We are all in this fight together.



Howie Hawkins for the Syracuse Greens

P.S. If you prefer to send a check instead of contributing online, please make the check out to “Vote Green Syracuse” and send it to P.O. Box 562, Syracuse, NY 13205.

P.P.S. Please forward this appeal to people you think will be interested.

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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
Hawkins for Mayor