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Onondaga County Legislature Democrats Aim High With Their "Plan for the People"

Allegra Craver

The four democrats in the Onondaga County Legislature and the others challenging republican incumbents have a plan they say will make lawmakers more responsive and accountable to residents.  They unveiled their “Plan of the People, for the People” Monday, which includes proposals ranging from term limits to enacting a living wage for county employees and contractors.  Democratic Floor Leader Linda Ervin acknowledges that their first challenge starts with voters knowing who they are.

"I'm sure all the candidates behind me will say they've spoken to people who hae no idea what the county does until we tell them, and have no idea the impact county government has on their life."

Chuck keller is hoping to claim the open 11th district seat currently held by Pat Kilmartin.

"The big thing I hear from voters is, 'what is the county legislature, and what does it do?'  In my mind, with a budget of over a billion dollars of our money, it is shocking to me that the citizens who provide that money don't have any idea what the legislature is, does, or who represents them.  We want to make a change, it's time for a change."

Credit Allegra Craver / WAER News
The Legislature's Democratic Floor Leader Linda Ervin.

Floor Leader Ervin says the current make-up of the 13-member republican supermajority is not how government should run.

"Much of what happens down there happens behind closed doors.  There are open meetings rules, and the meetings are open to the public.  But most of what's decided is decided in the caucus room, and comes out to the floor already decided.   That's not the way to do government.  We want to make sure that's not the way government works going forward."

Stefanie Heath is challenging republican Casey Jordan in the 14th district. 

"We need to be accessible.  If most of county government is meeting in a room and coming out with answers that are only applicable to the people in that room, how does that help that help the community."

The democratic candidates will hold town hall meetings detailing their plan later in the month.

Here are some of their priorities:

Reform and Accountability

  • Enact 8 year Term Limits for County Offices
  • Enact Fair and Non-Partisan Redistricting eliminating Partisan Gerrymandering
  • Hold regularly scheduled town halls throughout County
  • Hold Nighttime meetings of the County Legislature with livestream access following open meeting laws

Economic Opportunity

  • Enact A living wage for County Employees and Contractors Encourage reliable, high-speed access to entire County
  • Negotiate a fair and equitable Sales tax distribution
  • Reform the County IDA discouraging giveaways to large corporations on the backs of the middle class.

Environmental Sustainability

  • Make Onondaga County a home for Green Jobs
  • Modernize our County Sustainability plan which has been ignored for too long
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