Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Syracuse Mayoral Primary Profile: Republican Tom Babilon Touts City Hall Experience

Tom Babilon is hoping to advance to the general election for Syracuse mayor.
WAER File Photo
Tom Babilon is hoping to advance to the general election for Syracuse mayor.

Syracuse’s more than 9,500 enrolled republican voters have a choice to make in a rare primary race for mayor. WAER news kicks off its profiles of Syracuse’s primary mayoral candidates with Tom Babilon. He served as a city attorney for 10 years under three mayors, and tells voters he’s seen what works and doesn’t work.

"Usually, they'll ask, 'well, what are you running on?' And I'll say, I have so much experience with city government, what's your biggest problem, and I'll tell you what my idea is. Basically, you can tell me about any issue with the city, and I'll either have a solution or I'll have thoughts about how to fix it."

For example, he says the city needs to cut the red tape to help small businesses trying to come out of the pandemic, or looking to start.

"I want to look at all the business rules, regulations, professional licenses. I'm very familiar with most of them because I was involved in prosecuting them as a city attorney. Many of them are completely unnecessary. They don't have those kinds of regulations in the towns and villages. When someone is looking to locate their business, they can put it in the city, it may take me 6 or 8 months to go through all the city conditions before I can open, or I can open up in a month in Liverpool."

Babilon says the pandemic has clearly impacted downtown, where there are more empty storefronts. He says the city needs to hire an economic development professional to help businesses that want to expand or locate here. Public safety is also a priority, and Babilon says police shouldn’t be the primary responders in some cases.

"If someone's threatening suicide or they're mentally unstable, the police may not be the best to address that because they don't have the expertise to handle the situation, whereas a mental health professional may have the expertise that's needed. Additionally, police are always looking out for themselves. If there's any kind of threat perceived, they are going to respond with violence. When someone is having a mental health crisis, that's not necessarily the best approach."

At the same time, Babilon says he supports more funding for police, not less. He’s challenging party designee Janet Burman, whom we’ll hear from next. Early voting is underway through Sunday at four locations across the county, including the Armond Magnarelli Center on Grant Boulevard on the north side, and the Southwest Community Center. Primary election day is June 22nd.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at