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Two candidates vying to fill vacant spot on Syracuse Common Council

Members of the Common Council pictured with one of the candidates for councilor of the 5th district, Jimmy Monto.

The Syracuse Common Council interviewed two applicants on Friday who are seeking the 5th District Councilor position that opened last month. Previous Councilor Joe Driscoll was tapped by Mayor Ben Walsh as the I-81 czar to inform city departments about the community grid that will eventually replace the viaduct.

Candidate Jimmy Monto said he could become a role model for youth.

"If elected I will be the first openly LGBTQ person to sit on the council, and that is an inspiration to every young person in that community that is they don’t think they have a chance,” Monto said.

Monto has served on neighborhood associations, and is secretary of the Onondaga Democratic Committee. However, according to a recent story, Monto plead guilty in 2012 that he falsified business records when he worked for the Syracuse City School District. Monto tells WAER News he was the first to mention it during his interview with the Council and told them he was at “a crossroads” in his life back then.

Monto credited former Councilor Nader Maroun for always being attentive to his calls and he plans to do the same for constituents if appointed. The other candidate, Alfonso Davis said he’s well known as a community activist.

"That experience that I had actually, many moons ago actually writing legislation, being a part of legislation being written—that would be the Citizens Review Board I sat on a task force to help create that,” Davis said.

Davis ran for office several times and he thinks that’s why residents naturally reach out to him when they have problems. He said he then refers them to their councilor. Davis told the Common Council he wants to increase the level of resident participation in city government so they have more of a say in decisions that will ultimately impact them. The candidate selected as the 5th district councilor will have to run for office in the next two elections.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.