By: Tom Magnarelli Published: July 13, 2015 www.wrvo.org
The Green Party in Syracuse is running five candidates for office this year, on what they describe as a a progressive anti-poverty platform. The party says they want to give voters a choice that's different from the current Democratic-controlled common council. Edward Lockhart served almost six years in prison for selling cocaine and he's been struggling to find a job ever since he's been out. “They always ask the same question, 'do you have any convictions?'" Lockhart said. "I would put that down and every single time it would be a brick wall, I would come to a stop in my job search." Lockhard is supporting Green Party candidate Frank Cetera who is running for Syracuse common council's 2nd district. Cetera said he is for initiatives like "ban the box ,"which encourages employers to remove the check box on a job application that asks if the applicant has a criminal record.
The Syracuse city council voted overwhelming to approve a ban the box ordinance for the city in December 2014. Chad Ryan, a Democrat and the incumbent who Cetera is running against, was the only one to vote against the legislation. Cetera also wants the city of Syracuse to hire more workers. He said the difficulties of clearing the city's sidewalks during the winter, particularly in front of vacant homes and bus stop corners, is one possible area for employment. “This is a problem," Cetera said. "We are now halfway through until the next winter snow season here in Syracuse and we don't have a legitimate plan to make our community walkable year-round." Cetera said the Syracuse common council needs to get more innovative and learn from other cities. “We are the snowiest city in America and we can't clear our sidewalks of snow," Cetera said. "I guarantee you that there is another snowy city out there that's clearing its sidewalks of snow in some way and I don't know why we haven't yet taken the answer, if it's available somewhere else, and implemented it here.”
Cetera said he supports the Syracuse Land Bank, which acquires and then resells vacant, tax-delinquent properties, as long as ownership stays within the community and people are not put out on the street. Cetera also called for raising the minimum wage and said he would campaign for localities to be able to raise their minimum wage higher than what is set at the state level. Ursula Rozum, secretary for the Green Party's Onondaga County chapter, said Syracuse city government is being dominated by one party, the Democrats, and without a choice, nothing will change. “The city is not working for everyone and so our candidates are running on really progressive anti-poverty platforms,” Rozum said. The Green Party is running five candidates for office in Syracuse this year including Howie Hawkins for city auditor, Lance Denno for councilor-at-large and two candidates for the city school board.