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Democrat Michael Greene says Police, Housing, Economy Policies Separate Him from Mayoral Primary Opponent

Chris Bolt/WAER News
Michael Greene says neighborhoods like this one along Butternut Street would get more attention if he becomes Mayor of Syracuse.

Syracuse democrats enjoy a big enrollment advantage in the city but that didn’t prevent independent Ben Walsh from being elected mayor four years ago. Now the party’s members have a chance to choose who will challenge him again in this month’s primary. Today we hear from Michael Greene, who’s heard from residents that they’re not satisfied with progress on a number of fronts. One of those is police reform, where he’d like to appoint a civilian Commissioner of Public Safety.

“What we’ve seen, time and time again, is that when you have someone whose entire career has been as a police officer, they just keep going back to the same old policies. And it keeps not working. So there needs to be a new approach that has more accountability. We (also) need to have an empowered Citizen Review Board. If the community brings forth a valid complaint against an officer that acted inappropriately and nothing happens, you’re not going to have trust.”

He’s also dissatisfied with economic development. Greene says a ‘trickle-out’ policy of investing in downtown hasn’t worked. He would put more emphasis in some outlying neighborhoods. Some of that progress could be done with federal stimulus money that a new mayor will help invest. And if he were in charge of that windfall from Washington, he would follow two goals:

“Make the city a more equitable place, and you do that by investing in people and neighborhoods that have historically been left behind. But the other big thing, we have a structural deficit. It can be $15 Million or so a year, so what you really should be spending that money on are infrastructure improvements that will reduce our costs on an annual basis, as well as growth opportunities where you can grow our tax base.”

Greene has ideas where there could be quick progress, starting with Rapid Transit bus corridors.

“25% of the city of Syracuse doesn’t have a car. So, for the people that don’t have access to cars, they don’t have access to economic opportunity the way others would. We need to invest more in affordable housing. The city owns vacant land and buildings around the city. There’s no reason why we can’t make that affordable housing. So that’s something we can do from day one.”

Greene has laid out 14 different policy proposals. And he says a major difference between him and fellow Common Councilor Khalid Bey is this detailed vision of the future. He’s also not looking ahead to a possible matchup against Walsh.

“It’s a unique election for sure. I’m not trying to position myself specifically about who I’m running against. I’m running on my ideas; here’s what I want to accomplish and here’s what I want to do and here’s where I think the city should go. So, the city is not making the progress it should, and without a clear plan for how we change it, things won’t get better. So, were specifically focusing on police reform, housing, and economic development.”

More from Greene next hour of All Things Considered. And tomorrow, we’ll hear from his primary opponent Khalid Bey.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.