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MPA alum Ben Walsh Elected Mayor of Syracuse, Rudd also wins Councilor at Large seat

Ben Walsh, MPA 2005, wins historic race for Syracuse Mayor

It was a great night for Syracuse, NY last night – and a great night for Maxwell alums running for local office.  I am over the moon happy this morning. The sun is shining, and even as I drive my overtired self to the office, I am still abuzz with energy after watching one of my former Maxwell MPA students, Ben Walsh (MPA ’05) grab a convincing win in his bid to be the next Mayor in the City of Syracuse.  Two other former Maxwell MPA students Andrea Wanderee (my first graduate assistant, MPA ’97) and Tim Rudd (MPA ’07) were both up for seats on the Syracuse Common Council.  And while Tim Rudd won his Councilor-at Large bid, Andrea had an exceptional showing, almost beating out the incumbent in her first race.  I know I am not their parents, but the pride is just as strong and I wake today with renewed hope for the strategic advancement of our fair city and local community.

In fact history was made, as Ben Walsh is the first Independent Party Candidate to be elected Mayor of Syracuse in over 100 years, and without the support of either major political party.  The integrity with which Ben ran his campaign is commendable.  Though coming from a prominent Republican family, Ben has been a registered Independent since the age of 18.  The Republican Party would not endorse Ben unless he changed his party affiliation – but he fought that conventional wisdom and did not bow to the pressure.  He ran HIS campaign, HIS way, promising to “#Rise Above” the political partisanship which currently shapes political debate, and work with all people, bridging party lines for the betterment of the City. And it worked! The City of Syracuse is predominantly Democratic, while the County of Onondaga is a Republican strong hold.  Ben’s unique positioning as an Independent, and proven ability to work toward building consensus over the course of his public service career proved to be what the voter’s wanted.

With over 16 years in public service, Ben most recently served as the Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development under outgoing Democratic Mayor, Stephanie Miner (a position he left in preparation for his bid for mayor).  During his tenure with the city, he played a lead role in the creation of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, and the redevelopment of the Hotel Syracuse – an historic hotel, originally built in 1924, located in the heart of the city, which had lain vacant and in disrepair since 2004.  Ben’s first lead in the polls, just three days before Election Day was only 2% (and well within the 4.5% margin of error), but he won with 54.3% of the vote, 16% over his closest challenger (the Democratic candidate). His acceptance speech, which I stayed up well past my bedtime to see, spoke of unity, respect, inclusiveness and a bright future for Syracuse!  Yes, I may have cried, just a little. ( news story)

(excerpt from Ben’s acceptance speech after the win)
“When we started this journey, which was well over a year ago. I didn’t realize it at the time, but not a lot of people gave us much of a chance. (chuckles) They said it wasn’t MY turn, and that an Independent could NEVER win.  Luckily, the people of Syracuse have spoken CLEARLY that they are not willing to wait any longer for the change, progress and opportunity they deserve”.  ~ Mayor Elect, Ben Walsh  (local live news coverage)

Tim Rudd (MPA ’07) wins Councilor at Large Seat on Common Council

And if this was not enough to make my night – and day (and tomorrow.. ), seeing Tim Rudd receive the highest % of votes for one of the two Councilor-at-Large seats in the City, (Rudd win’s at-large seat) and Andrea Wandersee putting up a strong challenge in her bid for Common Council, 1st District, helped top off the night. While Andrea was not able to win as the final vote was cast, she had an extremely strong showing against the incumbent.

I am just so incredibly proud to be witness to the professional growth and development of Ben, Tim and Andrea.  I am heartened to know that their studies here at the Maxwell School played a part in their professional development, and am even more excited for the future of our City under their leadership and continued commitment to public service.

More news articles from the Daily Orange (the Independent Student Newspaper run by students of Syracuse University):

Ben Walsh wins Syracuse mayoral race, defeating Juanita Perez-Williams by Sam Ogozaiek and Sandhya Iyer

Common Councilors, political science experts react to Ben Wash’s historic election win by Jordan Muller and Sam Ogozaiek

Syracuse University College Democrats, Republicans react to Ben Walsh’s victory by Jordan Muller and Sam Ogozaiek




One Comment

  1. I really enjoyed your article Christine. I am so happy (and proud) for Ben and Syracuse. I know he will do great things for the city. Thanks for sharing!

    Mike Turner
    MPA/MA-IR 2005/2006

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