Despite being the underdog, Hawkins still hopeful in the race for Syracuse mayor

Nov 2, 2017

This is part of a series looking at each candidate running for mayor of Syracuse. You can find our stories featuring the other candidates for Syracuse mayor at the bottom of this page. 

Perennial Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is a long shot in four-person race for mayor of Syracuse. But Hawkins is still hopeful, even though political conditions might be working against him.

This is the third time Hawkins has run for mayor on the Green Party line. And he’s seeing a whole different dynamic this time around.

“I would say all the forums we did in those two campaigns combined, were less than we’ve been doing every week of the last month, and the audiences that come out are much bigger,” said Hawkins.

He believes that’s because the city has problems. A fiscal crisis, youth shootings and struggling schools, and voters are concerned. Hawkins’ answers to these issues include youth councilors on the streets instead of more police officer, and creation of a commuter tax to help dig the city out of debt.

But while he says he’s putting a voice to Green Party principles, there are other dynamics working against him. Such as a poll that puts him fourth in a race with an independent and Democrat running neck and neck.

“A vote for me is seen, and I think incorrectly, as a wasted vote, and that it won’t affect the outcome. But I think I’m coming up, and I hope people don’t underestimate me and vote for someone else, because they think it’s hopeless,” he said.

Hawkins is also fighting a discordant national political climate.

“[President] Trump is so offensive to the people in the center and left, that they’re focused on, 'we’ve got to get the Democrats back in and get rid of Trump and Republicans in Congress’,” he said.

Hawkins is 64 and works the overnight shift at UPS in Syracuse. He’s been a candidate for everything from governor to common councilor, and is still optimistic he’ll win the mayoral race, noting he's gotten 35 percent of the vote in the past, and believes that’s enough to win this election.

But if the polls are right and he loses, he might just wind up on the ballot next year, in an entirely different race.

“I can tell you right now, if I’m not elected mayor, the state Green Party people are telling me ‘you’ve got to run for Governor. You’ve gotten us on the ballot line twice’,” he said.