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GOP Syracuse Mayoral Candidate Janet Burman Says Her Obligation Is To The Voters, Not Campaign Donors

Janet Burman for Mayor

GOP Mayoral hopeful Janet Burman says she’s spending some of her time staying prepared for the various debates and candidate forums that will fill her schedule in the remaining days. Here's a transcript of our conversation:

It is terrific that we have these opportunities because I could not possibly afford to purchase that kind of airtime to get my message out.

What have you learned from voters or even other candidates during the campaign, and has it changed your perspective or position on any of the issues?

Actually throughout the campaign, I have received validation for what I identified last year as my first priority for city government. And that is public safety. In fact, I'm getting validation from my opponents as well. A recent mailing by the incumbent, the headline on it could have literally been cut and pasted from my campaign literature.

There are, as you know, a number of big issues the next mayor has to tackle. They range from poverty and housing, navigating the impacts of I-81 local hiring and the disruption, which you've talked about, police accountability, and making smart investments with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Knowing all of these require a lot of attention, maybe even at the same time, how would you manage or balance these competing priorities?

Well, it, it's important to hire leaders to head the departments who are going to be effective at their jobs. I recognize that good leadership in this situation is going to rely upon someone who recognizes what the priorities are for their department and is excellent at communicating those priorities and the related goals, and understands how to empower employees with the necessary knowledge and technology that they need to accomplish their jobs.

You're a Republican running against a well-funded incumbent independent, and a Democrat in a city dominated by democratic voters. Some might call that an uphill battle. How do you see it? Has the three-way race blurred party lines made it difficult to gain traction?

I think it has blurred party lines, but also party lines have been blurred by the fact that 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. And when you have such an overarching concern as public safety, that is a message that transcends party lines.

So you're finding you're not up against the partisan politics that we see on the national level?

Exactly. The enrollment is certainly a significant one. And if this were not a three-way race, I don't think we're in a time where a Republican could possibly hope to be elected. Even as it stands now, it's a formidable task. Clearly, I'm at a disadvantage with regards to fundraising because I made the decision early on that I would not seek funds from anyone who currently does business with the city, or is looking for favorable relationships with city government. So that rules out all of the wealthy developers in the community, which has been the significant source for the incumbent’s fundraising. When I become mayor, I will not be constrained by any implied or perceived obligation to anyone. My obligations will be entirely to the voters.

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