Syracuse Democratic Councilor Khalid Bey is looking to expand his influence by running for an open at-large seat on the Common Council in November. Bey is the chair of economic development in a city where growth is lacking.
The city of Syracuse is ranked last in economic growth out of the top 100 municipalities in the U.S., according to a new study from the Brookings Institution.
Bey said it is at the discretion of the mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, to negotiate and enter business contracts and to decide how to spend the city's money.
“That leaves the council only with the ability to approve what the mayor wants to spend or any contract that they may want to enter in and the ability to foster an environment for a business to come," Bey said. "So we write legislation to make it easier to do business. We streamline some permit processes and alike.”
Bey said there are good tax agreements being made like the ones with hotel developer Ed Riley to renovate the former Hotel Syracuse and Symphony Tower.
“The local hiring ordinance, which I give praise to Ed Riley, honoring it 100 percent, that’s an example of things we can do to improve our condition.”
Bey said it will take reinvestment in mom and pop stores and focusing the attention on the unemployment rate to revitalize Syracuse. Unemployment stood at 4.9 percent in the city in December. He currently represents a district that includes parts of downtown, the south side and Syracuse University.
Bey said he wants to continue focusing on improving the city’s neighborhood business corridors. He used the South Salina corridor and Little Italy neighborhoods of Syracuse as examples of good redevelopment.
“Neighborhoods are built or strengthened around their neighborhood business corridors," Bey said. "If you’re looking to strengthen the housing stock and the populations in a given neighborhoods, you have to have the services people want. A lot of our neighborhoods have these dilapidated business neighborhoods that result in a lot of our money being spent outside of the city.”
Bey said the Consensus Report on consolidating services and combining the governments of Syracuse and Onondaga County, amplified his concerns about the city losing its voice. He said the city did not ask for a rescue from Onondaga County or the state. And he said those pushing the merger are not listening to the people.
"When the people say no to an idea you have for managing their assets and you ignore them, who are you doing business for?" Bey asked. "You can’t be working for us if we’re telling you no. I’m not just saying the city; the towns and the villages are saying no. Everybody is saying no. And then, the response to that is do this or else.”
Democrat Timothy Rudd is also running for another open at-large seat.