Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner gave a farewell address at Syracuse University, as she prepares to step down at the end of her term. Miner reflected on her time as mayor and used the opportunity to focus on bigger problems affecting New York State.
Miner offered funny stories about being the first female mayor of New York’s “Big 5” cities. She wasn’t recognized by security guards in Albany. A child at a school she visited asked if boys can be mayor too.
Miner said most of the problems she dealt with as mayor are rooted in poverty, violence and justice. She said what she will miss most about being mayor is serving her constituents.
"There's a lot of people that say, 'I don't know how you do what you do,'" Miner said. "The part of it that they don't realize is the incredible generosity of people in this community. They open up their homes to you, their lives to you, they want you to be a part of their life. And they do it in the most pure ways."
But Miner also shared the lowest point of her administration, when a 20-month-old child was shot and killed by gang violence in Syracuse in 2010.
“To stop such senseless violence, you need the entire community to get involved," Miner said. "To ask the police alone to solve it is an exercise in futility. The places where people have been successful in mitigating gun violence, they have done it by building relationships over time. Not by one-offs.”
Miner said economic development is the Holy Grail of Syracuse. But she took shots at policies that she said only benefit politicians and campaign contributors, like tax breaks worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Destiny USA.
“The cycle of contributions followed by giveaways continues to this day, as does the list of failed economic development projects,” Miner said.
Miner said New York State has the most racially segregated schools in the country and she said schools in poorer neighborhoods need more funding. Miner will teach at New York University next semester as she considers a run for governor.