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Syracuse Mayoral Primary Profile: Republican Janet Burman Stresses Public Safety As A Priority

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File photo/WAER News
Party designee Janet Burman is hoping to survive a challenge by Tom Babilon.

Syracuse’s enrolled republicans are deciding who they feel should continue to the general election enter a three-way race for mayor. Janet Burman is the party's designee, and she's being challenged by Tom Babilon. She says most voters share public safety as a first priority…and a first response to situations that might involve someone in a mental health crisis.

“We have to be careful about putting people who aren’t trained as police officers in a volatile situation or a dangerous situation. As we go forward addressing concerns of mental health in our community, we need to be cognizant of the fact that they can play a role in helping diffuse situations, but the police have to be the primary response.”

Burman has tied lax public safety under the Walsh Administration to the crime and unsafe conditions at the Skyline apartment complex. She says she’s stopped by to see if the building’s owner is providing the security required under the city’s nuisance abatement order.

“I told him about having been there when there wasn’t any security, and I was glad to see him there. He said yes, I’m here, but there’s supposed to be three of us, and I’m the only one. So, it’s still a problem. The role of police in that is to alert city administration when the situation exists.”

Aside from public safety, Burman says one of her other priorities will be to make sure businesses successfully emerge from the pandemic.

“I want to focus the economic development within city government entirely on existing businesses; identifying regulatory obstructions, making them aware of financial support and incentives that can help them thrive.”

She and challenger Tom Babilon agree that the city needs to cut regulatory red tape. But they disagree on who should recruit new businesses; Burman says that’s the county’s job, while Babilon says the city should take a more active role. Up next: We begin our profile of the democratic mayor primary with Michael Greene. Early voting is underway through Sunday. 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