Grove Header- White.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Three-Way Syracuse Mayoral Race Blurs Party Lines For Candidates And Their Supporters

Citizens walk across the street away from a brick building.
Katie Zilcosky
Syracuse City Hall sits at 233 E Washington St. in downtown.

The three way race for Syracuse mayor has presented some interesting political and party dynamics for candidates and their supporters.  WAER News found out that issues rather than party labels seem to be driving the contest between an independent incumbent, a democrat, and a republican.

Common Council President Helen Hudson is a lifelong democrat. She supported independent Ben Walsh the first time around, and didn’t hesitate to do it again.

"Before COVID hit, we were in an upward trajectory moving our city forward. It would be foolish of me to step back now when I'm watching the progress that we're making in the city."

That’s Walt Dixie, also a democrat. But he says he and his Alliance Network have endorsed republicans, too, including Joanie Mahoney and Ryan McMahon for county executive.

"It does make sense to give him [Walsh] another four years to continue the work he's been doing. We have to get off these labels moving forward. A lot of people aren't voting. Party to me is becoming a dinosaur. At the end of the day, it's the individual and what they represent, and we get behind them."

The mayoral candidates themselves say party labels in this race don’t seem to matter as much to voters. Republican Janet Burman says party lines have been blurred.

"When it comes to local issues, we don't find the type of polarization and conflict that exists with national issues. I have found residents throughout the city receptive to hearing the opinion of someone in a party that differs from theirs."

Independent incumbent Ben Walsh says he's staying true to himself, though it's more of a challenge to run outside the two-party system.

"I don't think I'm unique. I think most of us don't fit neatly into one of those two party boxes. Many people feel a stronger allegiance to one or the other. That's fine. But for me, especially at the local government level, it has really has little to do with party politics."

Democrat Khalid Bey says party lines were blurred prior to Walsh taking office, which led to his victory. He says there's more concern and disconnect from all three parties in this race.

"It appears people are moreso voting their issues while are some are staying along party lines. This is what creates what I mention as a level of unpredictability. It's a new dynamic as we go forward politically. Certainly, for those of us who support and promote democratic values, it is our preference that a democrat be in city hall. "

Join WAER news this week for one-on-one interviews with each candidate. We'll start Tuesday with Republican Janet Burman.

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