6:52pm

Tue December 31, 2013
Politics and Government

Syracuse elected officials sworn in, look to challenges ahead

Two Syracuse City Council members and three city school board members were sworn in at city hall on Monday. The new and returning office holders acknowledged there will be many tough issues for them to face in their terms.

Friends and family members cheered on as their elected officials took the oath of office in the packed Common Council Chambers.

President of the Syracuse Common Council Van Robinson was sworn in for a second term. He says it's his job to assure the people that Syracuse will not go down the road of bankruptcy, and that the city needs to grow.

"We have a number of jobs that are technology driven and many more are coming into the city. We must prepare our workforce for a new type of collar, not a blue collar but a white collar," said Robinson.

Reelected Councilor-at-large Jean Kessner, says the city faces a financial crisis and would be helped if the state and federal governments shared more of the income taxes they collect.

On the positive side, Robinson says Syracuse has something many other cities don't: a large growth of people residing downtown.

"Now what we have to do is spread that to our neighborhoods and I think we'll be able to do that through a land bank which has purchased a number of homes that have been abandoned, hopefully we'll be able to turn them around in the next year or so. That will encourage people to move back into the city," said Robinson.

School district members say the state also needs to help pay for unfunded mandates, and focus on improving student discipline in the district.

David Cecile, newly elected to the Syracuse school board, has worked as a principal in the district for 26 years. He says his top priority is student behavior and discipline.

"The family court system, the social service department, the school district, the county attorney's office: we've got to get all these groups working together to support our kids and their families in order to help them be productive and successful in our schools,” said Cecile. “It can't just fall on the school district, we can't just fix it ourselves, it's got to be a community wide effort." Discipline has been an issue in the Syracuse City School District’s disciplinary system is under investigation by the New York state attorney general.

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