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Walsh's Focus For 2nd Term: Community Grid, STEAM High School, Mental Heath Services

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Scott Willis
Mayor Ben Walsh celebrated winning his second term in office at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown Tuesday night.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh cruised to a second term last night earning 60% of the vote as an independent candidate in a three-way race. He says Syracuse has made great progress over the past four years, but acknowledged there’s much more to do. Walsh says replacing the I-81 viaduct will be transformative.

“We are going to build the community grid. We are going to build it in a way that centers our efforts on the people that live within the shadow of that viaduct, and not just protect them," said Walsh. "We need to lift them up, so everyone truly benefits from this once in a generation opportunity.”

Walsh says they’ll also build the STEAM school at Central tech, and take city schools to the next level. He also committed to using federal pandemic relief funds to help those suffering from addiction and mental health challenges.

Democratic challenger Khalid Bey walked away with 27% of the vote. He says he can identify with the challenges facing many city residents.

Election Night 2021
Listen here to Khalid Bey's concession speech.
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“When you talk about neighborhood safety, you know, I still hear gun shots in the distance of my neighborhood. I’m a home owner. I grew up in concentrated poverty, even though it’s kind of promoted as a new thing now, it was there when I was only a year old in Central Village in 1972,” said Bey.

Republican Janet Burman came in third with about 12% of the vote, but she may still have an effect on the mayor's second term.

Burman hopes her campaign will push the Walsh administration to focus on the issues she brought up on the election trail.

“I hope that Mayor Walsh seriously considers some of the points and suggestions that Khalid Bey and I made,” said Burman.

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Wyatt Barmore-Pooley
Janet Burman at her election night watch party.

Burman focused her campaign primarily on the issue of public safety. In his victory speech, Ben Walsh acknowledged Burman’s influence and says he’ll carry on her drive in his new term.

“Janet Burman’s relentless focus on public safety reflects all of our desire for safer neighborhoods. Janet, I want you to know that I will work tirelessly to keep our city safe and I appreciate your advocacy,” said Walsh.

In her concession speech, Burman said that all three candidates had great ideas for the city, and she greatly appreciated the experience.

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