Democracywise: Hawkins on 4th Council District Issues

What to do about I-81 and high poverty in Syracuse.

Issues: Hawkins (Green) for Common Council Dist. 4

Making I-81 less of an eyesore and using government jobs programs to combat poverty are answers to some key issues for Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Common Council District 4.

Hawkins is challenging incumbent Khalid Bey, Democrat, in a rematch for the District 4 seat. lost to Bey by fewer than 100 votes in 2011.

Election Day is Nov. 5.

District 4 includes University Hill, the southwest portion of Syracuse and Brighton.

Democracywise asked two questions on key issues to the candidates in this contested race for Syracuse Common Council. Here are Hawkins’ responses:

The future of Interstate 81

 What should be done with I-81 and why?

Hawkins: “We should refocus the discussion from how to move car and truck traffic to how to move people and goods in, out, and around the I-81 corridor in the center of the city. The debate between rebuilding an elevated highway or replacing it with a boulevard is focused on how to accommodate existing truck and car traffic.”  Through traffic, he said, “can be re-routed around the city onto to I-481.”  He called for more mass transit and more foot traffic in downtown. Hawkins said:  “Car and truck traffic should be minimized, with some streets for pedestrian and bicycle use only, like the Ithaca Commons. This kind of redevelopment would make the former I-81 Corridor a vibrant commercial and residential neighborhood in the center of Syracuse.”

Improving the local economy and eliminating poverty

In September, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Syracuse and Onondaga County have not yet recovered from the 2008 recession. In the city, unemployment was 14 percent and in 2012 more than a third of city residents lived in poverty. For children, 55 percent were living in poverty. Those figures are a four-year high, according to the Census Bureau. And in Onondaga County, median family income in 2012 was $64,324. That’s compares to $67,661 in 2008 and $65,666 in 2011.

What specifically would you like the local government of Syracuse do to improve the local economy and help reduce poverty? Why do you think your proposal will work?

Hawkins: “Short term: City-Funded Jobs for City Residents. The fastest way to get jobs to unemployed in the 4th District and the city as a whole is to ensure city residents and minorities get their fair share of city-funded jobs with city contractors and city departments.” Hawkins also proposed: “Expand the Living Wage Law to cover all city-funded workers, not only contractors but also city employees and businesses receiving economic incentives from the city. Establish Community Hiring Halls that are required to be the first source for employers seeking qualified hires on city-funded jobs. City residents would sign up with their qualifications and the Community Hiring Halls would, in addition to referring them to employers, help them upgrade their qualifications and support them in training programs and new jobs.”

(Becca Milliron is a senior majoring in newspaper and online journalism and minoring in political science.)


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Howie Hawkins is the 2017 Green candidate for Syracuse Mayor
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