Mayor Ben Walsh is the first independent to take office in the city of Syracuse in the last 100 years. As he puts together his diverse team, many feel a change is on the horizon. Gabrielle Mediak spoke with Walsh, his team and a political analyst on how they plan to tackle some inherited challenges.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It's been a month since Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh took office. During that time he's been assembling his administration, making sure the diversity and bipartisanship throughout his campaign transfered into governance.
"I really feel like we have a dream team," said Walsh. "I said we wanted to cast a wide net and make sure we had the very best people for the job."
Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute and professor of political science, Grant Reeher says Walsh coming in as an independent has given him some unique opportunities and flexibility in the hiring process.
"It looks like he's been drawing from the business community but also from different political parties," said Reeher. "So he's been building a team that looks like it'll be able to run the city well."
Two of the top positions are deputy mayor held by Sharon Owens and director of city initiatives held by Greg Loh. He was plucked from Eric Mower & Associates, while Owens was formerly chief executive officer of Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility.
"There are views from all sides, all ages, all walks of life," said Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens. "It was a breath of fresh air for me and I think that's what people are feeling now."
Although it may be a "dream team," people need to be aware of the nightmares they are walking into.
"The city faces some pretty big structural problems," said Reeher. "Faced those under the Miner administration she inherited those problems. Now he's inheriting them."
Poverty, crime, and fiscal problems are just a few of the many challenges ahead. While change isn't going to happen overnight, a lot of hope and excitement has been swirling around in the community since Walsh has taken office. "As we enter into the second month I couldn't be more happy with the team assembled," said Walsh.
As his team works toward solutions, Walsh says he plans to include the community's input in the process.