Howie Hawkins' persistent, all-encompassing platform is what will save Syracuse
With the country's highest level of poverty concentration among blacks and Hispanics, an above-average high school dropout rate and a massive load of debt, Syracuse is in a state of disarray. Among the city's mayoral candidates, only Howie Hawkins has the radical, progressive solutions to correct the unfair treatment many Syracuse residents face.
The race's other candidates — Republican Laura Lavine, Democrat Juanita Perez Williams and independent Ben Walsh — have only presented mainstream solutions to these longstanding problems. But Hawkins has been an advocate for change his entire life, and has always taken the road less traveled.
The Daily Orange
By Kyle Smith
November 6, 2017
After graduating from Dartmouth College, Hawkins decided he didn't want to work in an office. Instead, he went into construction and now works overnight shifts at the United Parcel Service in Syracuse. He's also a member of Teamsters Local 317.
Whereas the vast majority of politicians enjoy luxuries of professional class, Hawkins understands the struggles of real workers in the United States and what must be done to revive the country's middle class. That perspective puts him in the perfect place to lift up impoverished areas in the city.
Hawkins' proposed city income tax gets to the root of unfair distribution of resources in Syracuse. More than 62,000 commuters use the city's roads and public services but live in the suburbs and don't pay to support them, according to Hawkins' website. This tax would generate much-needed revenue that's crucial to reviving the city.
Hawkins aims to tackle oppression and racism in the city through desegregating housing. As it stands, neighborhoods are sharply divided by their income levels.
This division is obvious to Syracuse University students, who are often told to not walk past Interstate 81 and its surrounding streets. It's also obvious in Syracuse's segregated schools and failing businesses and jobs. But if people of diverse incomes lived side by side, as Hawkins promotes with his proposed inclusionary zoning ordinance, we'd be more likely to stop dehumanizing residents with lower incomes and start giving them the resources they deserve.
To tackle Syracuse's high crime rates, Hawkins doesn't suggest hiring more police officers, many of whom are white and from the suburbs. Instead, he calls for counselors to connect with and guide the city's troubled youth. These counselors would cost one-third of a police officer's salary, Hawkins said at a mayoral debate on Oct. 30.
Hawkins also proposes community policing, which would require officers to walk their own designated beats and get to know residents in the area. Hawkins' progressive ideas would not only make Syracuse a safer city, but also help to restore trust between police and the community.
Hawkins' all-encompassing platform has grown out of his many runs for mayor, Congress and governor of New York state — all positions he failed to win. But Hawkins remains positive and practical.
"You can have lots of victories without winning the office," he said.
Hawkins' victories stem from the discussions he's sparked. From a living wage ordinance to the I-81 community grid, Hawkins has caused citizens, government officials and winning candidates to address his vocal supporters' concerns. This moment in history is unprecedented in American politics. If things do not change radically, the cycles of poverty, financial distress and social injustice will continue to spin out of control. It's obvious Syracuse needs radical change, and the person who can deliver that change has been loading boxes into UPS trucks on the South side since 1991.
Kyle Smith is a third-year environmental studies major. His column appears biweekly. You can reach him at [email protected].