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New Syracuse Common Councilor wants to Tackle Police Issues, Unity & Give Youth a Voice

Amir Gethers at Swearing in - Scott Willis 2 shot.jpg
Scott Willis/WAER News
Amir Gethers (L) starts his term on the Syracuse Common Council in the new year, after winning a Councilor-at-Large seat in November. He's pictured here with fellow Democrat Pat Hogan.

There will be three new faces on the Syracuse Common Council in the new year, making decisions on how to best spend taxpayer dollars for the benefit of residents and businesses. One of them is Amir Gethers, who will become the youngest African American ever elected to the council at age 26. He says he hopes to serve as a counter-narrative about his demographic.

“Everybody thinks that your vote doesn’t matter, ‘no matter what, this is going to go this way, this is going to do that.’  I’m a prime example that that’s not true.  There was a plethora of people that came out, more than I expected to vote for me.  And with me being a young person it gave me faith … that people are listing to us.  They want to hear our values; they want to hear our thoughts.”

Gethers knows there’s a hierarchy where people tend to defer to more experienced councilors, but he says younger people can also offer input that can have an impact. For example, his presence on the council and his perspective might help everyone understand struggles with police interactions.

“Especially with a lot of things we have going on throughout the United States the past couple of years.  We had some very tragic things happen.  I want to try to mend a lot of things that are going on in the city, forgetting the black and white picture, or the Hispanic or (other ethnicities).  Let’s just come together as one.”

Unity and moving forward are recurrent themes for Gethers. During his campaign, he found voters were quick to note the diversity of neighborhoods.

“People told me, ‘this is the poor side, this is the middle class side, or this is the rich side, or this is the fake-it til you make-it side over here,’  It’s very, very different, and I want to try to even out that playing field so everyone can be (simply) a Syracuse resident.” 

Gethers will be joined by Rasheada Caldwell as new councilors-at-large. Jennifer Schultz will take her seat as the first woman to represent the city’s first district on the north side.

The new councilors will have their first chance to weigh in on city matters officially at a study session January 6th, and take their first votes during the full council meeting January 11th.

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