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Public Safety Is A Top Priority For Syracuse Mayoral Candidates

Three candidates stand at podiums preparing for a debate in a studio.
Mark Lodato
/
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
Incumbent Mayor Ben Walsh (L), Republican Janet Burman (middle), and Democrat Khalid Bey (R) faced off in a debate Wednesday night at Syracuse University's Newhouse School.

The three candidates vying to be the next mayor of Syracuse squared off in their fourth debate Wednesday night. Among many topics, public safety was a top priority for all candidates.

Violent crime has been on the rise nationwide, and all three candidates plan to tackle the issue head-on in Syracuse. Incumbent independent Mayor Ben Walsh laid out the work he’s done in his first term. He said with initiatives like ShotSpotter, police worn body cameras, and bias training, he has prioritized public safety while holding the city’s police department accountable.

"Oftentimes people talk about either doing police reform or focusing on public safety. We have and must do both. We need to make sure our community is safe, but we also need to hold our department and our officers to a very high standard," said Walsh.

Republican candidate Janet Burman disagrees. She said when Mayor Walsh cut funding to all departments, including the police, he wasn’t prioritizing public safety. If elected, she said she wants at least 300 patrol officers.

"If you view public safety as the paramount first priority of government, then you don't make a proportional cut to public safety," said Burman.

Democratic candidate Khalid Bey also acknowledged voters’ worries about violent crime and mental health in Syracuse. He believes the best path forward is creating genuine relationships between the city’s police department and community members.

"So we certainly have some mental health issues, but not every issue isn't related to mental health. We have to put officers in the neighborhood in close proximity, improve communication between police and community. That's how you start to chip away at the issue," said Bey.

Early voting in Onondaga County begins on Saturday and runs through October 31st. Election day is November 2nd.

To find more information about where and how you can vote visit the county Board of Elections website.