Syracuse’s First Black Mayor?

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Op/Ed By Kofi Quaye –

 

kofi_quayeAlfonso Davis appears to have concluded that Syracuse is ready for an African American to become mayor of the city.

More importantly, he also seems to have decided that he is qualified to run for the city’s top elective position, and that he has the potential to win.

And, he is not just talking about it; he’s announced his candidacy, and is doing what it takes for a candidate to project the image of a serious contender. Last Saturday, April 15, he held a town hall meeting, which he described as being the first in a series of community-based events that will focus on his campaign.

His candidacy has put forth a fundamental question to all other mayoral candidates and voters, which is: can he win the race?

It is already a crowded field with candidates from both parties, and others who’ve described themselves as independents and bureaucrats, all of them claiming to be uniquely qualified to seek the position, and capable of providing the leadership the city will need when Mayor Stephanie Miner makes her exit.

Davis announced his candidacy in January, and jumping into the fray early was a great tactical move.

However, it seems opinions vary on the impact an African-American mayor would make, besides the obvious fact that if Davis won, he would be the first person of color to reach that lofty status.

But, herein lies the problem: the first African-American mayor of Syracuse would step into a job that would be a lot more challenging and potentially more difficult for that simple reason; he would be a person of color.

Former president Barack Obama’s epic battles with Republican leadership in Washington provided a relevant, and powerful example of what may lie ahead for an African-American mayor of Syracuse.

And, equally significant is the question: what impact will an African-American mayoral candidate have on the general public, in terms of giving the electorate a strong reason to go out and vote for him?

It is quite possible that the majority of the African-American community would vote for him based on the fact that he is a part of their community.

But, will that be enough?

It’s a question that cannot be easily answered.

One thing is for sure – he has to appeal to a broader base.

And he appears to be doing just that. His platform focuses on issues that resonate with people, not only within the African-American community, but within the general population, as a whole. People seem interested in what he’s proposed in terms of creating jobs, community development, housing and education.

Consequently, I think it’s possible for Davis to run a reasonably decent, and potentially impactful campaign, if he is able to raise enough funds to finance the various activities and programs involved in the race.

He has the experience, insight, and gravitas which has come from running in past primaries against a formidable opponent who just so happens to be the current mayor.

However, this time around he’s going up against others who are just as determined to be mayor.

As a result, he would need the community to come out in full force, to support him in different ways, and at different levels.

Here again, his past experience may guide him.

Media reports have indicated his previous attempts in primaries have given him considerable exposure, primarily because his opponent was the incumbent mayor.

Will Alfonso Davis emerge as Syracuse’s new mayor?

Of course, it’s possible that he could win.

The potential definitely exists for the first African American to become mayor of Syracuse.

It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible.

Come election time, the city of Syracuse will make that decision, and elect a mayor based on how it all plays out.

Hopefully, Alfonso Davis will be that candidate. It looks like it might be that time for Syracuse.

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