By Evan Stockton SYRACUSE, N.Y (NCC News)– The city of Syracuse has a brand new mayor, and he has a powerful message to share with his new constituents.
“We are, in fact, at our human best when we stop trying to win by knocking others down and instead choose to rise together by lifting each other up,” proclaimed Ben Walsh at his victory speech Tuesday evening. Walsh defeated his main contender, Juanita Perez Williams, by gaining 54 percent of the vote.
In some ways, Walsh was a total out-of-the-box contender. In other ways, it’s no surprise he won.
Walsh’s father was a U.S. Congressman from 1993 to 2009, and his grandfather was the mayor of Syracuse from 1961 to 1969. Yet, Ben has taken a different political route than his family members. While his Dad and Grandpa were Republicans, Walsh ran as an independent. He’s the first unaffiliated mayor of Syracuse in 104 years. That underdog mentality may be a major reason why he won.
“I voted for Ben because he was for the people, by the people, and he’s of the people,” said one Syracuse resident. “He’s someone you can talk to; even if he goes in office, you’ll still be able to talk to him. He’s not a one-hitter quitter. He’s a man of substance. That’s why I voted for him.”
Now, Ben Walsh’s work begins in earnest. The 38-year-old centered his campaign around economic development in one of the country’s poorest cities. Yet, Walsh remains confident.
“I’m gonna say it again, this city’s best days are undoubtedly ahead of us,” shouted Walsh at his victory speech. “It is time to rise above, Syracuse!”