Syracuse residents turn out for midterm elections
Syracuse area residents turn out for midterm elections
Syracuse and Central New York residents are facing several crucial decisions as they head to the polls today for the midterm elections.
Statewide, Gov. Kathy Hochul, who succeeded Andrew Cuomo after he resigned amid sexual assault allegations, is up for her first gubernatorial race against Republican candidate Lee Zeldin.
For congressional races, Democrat Steven Holden and Republican Claudia Tenney vying for the seat in the 24th district, while Republican Brandon M. Williams faces off against Democrat Francis Conole for New York’s 22nd district representative seat. Alongside national races are county and local provisions and elections for state senator and city council.
Dozens of Newhouse School journalism students fanned out across central New York on Election Day for the Democracy in Action initiative. Check out highlights below, get the latest updates and follow on Twitter at @DemocracyAction.
Democrat Jimmy Monto won the Syracuse Common Council 5th District race against opponent Woody Carroll in a sweeping victory.
“For every single 12, 13, 14, 15, 19-year-old LGBTQ+ person that is sitting out there thinking that your possibilities are not there for you, let me tell you something- they are endless,” Monto said after his win.
Monto has made Syracuse history as the first openly-LGBTQ+ person elected to common councilor in the city. He will be joining nine other existing Democrat councilors on the Common Council.
“We’ve waited too long for this to happen,” said Monto. “I am the first one and I will not be the last.”
Monto won the race with 5,206 votes, 74 percent of the district’s votes, compared to Carroll’s 1,792 votes with around 25 percent.
Monto will head into the Common Council as a dedicated community member having served as the president of Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, the vice president of Fundraising for CNY Pride, and a member of Mayor Ben Walsh’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.
Councilor Patrick Hogan told the Daily Orange that his experience will translate well to the council adding, “Somebody who puts himself out there on a volunteer basis is the type of guy I think would be a good city councilor.”
Just over a week ago, Carroll told Syracuse.com that he was confident the race would end in his favor, believing that Monto’s past criminal record would play to his advantage. The Republican has lost the other two CNY elections he has run in by large numbers as well, according to Syracuse.com.
Monto pleaded guilty to falsifying tax documents as a Syracuse City School District employee in 2012 but later admitted he only pleaded guilty to avoid further punishment. Ultimately, Monto believes in second chances and redeemed his tonight.
Millions of Americans are headed to the polls today to make their voices heard, and among those millions of Americans are a number of Syracuse residents who are visiting the polling place at Erwin First United Methodist Church. With important elections concluding today in Onondaga County, these citizens are exercising their right to make their voices heard.
A great number of issues that affect Central New York and the nation at large have been debated in the weeks and months leading up to the elections, and these issues have informed the decisions of many voters. One such voter is retired teacher Ellen Galgano, who says she is voting to uphold women’s rights.
“Women fought so hard for the vote,” Galgano said. “I can’t understand a woman who would not vote, especially this year with abortion on the ballot.”
While people vote on the issues that are important to them now, many also believe that it is important to cast their votes so as to invest in the future. Ali Grandy works as an inventory specialist at a medical cannabis dispensary, but in addition to her occupation, she also has the job of being a mother to a child – a child whom Grandy took to the polling place with her. In casting her vote, Grandy is thinking of the future, voting not just to make her voice heard on issues that could impact future generations, but also exposing younger people to the civic process and empowering them to engage when they become old enough to vote.
“I want my kid to see me voting,” Grandy said. “I think that’s important, really, just to display it for the next generation.”
The right of the American people to make their voices heard has always been and remains today central to American politics and governance, and as a result, many see voting as a civic duty so as to uphold the American system that has prevailed for more than 200 years. Galgano, however, does not see the act of voting as merely a duty, but as something much grander and more important.
“Not only is it our civic duty,” Galgano said. “It’s a civic gift that we have, to vote. I mean, there are so many people around the world who don’t have this privilege to vote.”
Voters will be able to cast their votes until 9:00 pm tonight. Those who vote today, as well as those who have already voted, are continuing the tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation – the tradition of voting.
For Danny Adams, voting is not only a civic responsibility but an homage to the people who fought for his right to do so. Growing up during the 1960s, he knows just what people went through so that he’d be able to cast a ballot, and he’s made an effort to get to the polls since he was 18.
“The fact that it took so many people to die, for people to get the right to vote, whether you’re a woman, you had to fight for the right to vote, you’re a person of color, you had to fight for the right to vote, other different groups throughout history have had to fight for the right to vote,” Adams said. “So you owe it to all of those peoples whose shoulders you stand on to get out and vote.”
Adams is one of many who have already gone out to the polls. Voters in New York have a ballot containing national Congressional seats, as well as state and local offices.
Carol Fedrizzi came out to vote with her father within the first few hours of the polls being open. Though current political issues like women’s rights and student loan debt particularly motivated her to vote this November, she said it’s been a lifelong habit of hers to vote in each election.
“My parents instilled in us really, really early the importance of voting in every election, no matter if it’s local or statewide, countrywide,” Fedrizzi said. “I’ve always come out to vote, ever since I was 18. That was the first time I voted.”
When she was young, Fedrizzi would even go to the polls to watch people cast their votes. Her childhood best friend’s mother was a poll worker and would bring them along on Election Day. Fedrizzi still remembers what that was like to watch, especially the doughnuts and voting stickers they had at the polling centers. Watching the voting process play out helped reinforce everything her parents taught her.
Though voters shared similar reasons for coming out to the polls early in the morning, like getting ahead of crowds later in the day or casting a ballot before going into work, they each had their own reason as to why casting that ballot was so important to them. While some had lifelong traditions of voting, others felt a gravity to this year’s election.
“This is I think the most important election I’ve ever voted in,” Neville Gruenberg said. “I’m concerned about our country. The direction we’re going seems like good versus evil.”
As the sun replaced the beaver moon over Nottingham High School, voters went out of the way to cast their ballot early.
For some, coming early was about the stakes of this year’s election.
“I think this is the most important election I’ve ever voted in, and I’ve voted in every election since I was 18,” Neville Gruenberg said. “I think democracy is on the ballot.”
Other voters like retiree Danny Adams said he chose to vote early as a matter of convenience.
“Get out and vote before the crowds get here, you can be in and out, quiet,” Adams said.
Still, for others, voting early was a sacrifice to spend a day off with family. Sam Szewczyk was excited to spend his day off with his son, who he said was on his mind as he cast his ballot.
“I do it for my son, the future for my son, that’s it.”
Greunberg felt as if the future was riding on who took control in this election.
“I’m concerned about our country and the direction we are going. It seems like good versus evil” Gruenberg said.
Adams said voters shouldn’t take their civic duty for granted.
“It took so many people to die to get the right to vote,” Adams said. “Having grown up in the sixties, people got shot, killed, burned, dog set on them for the right to vote.”
Adams said that sacrifice comes with responsibility.
“So you owe it to all those people whose shoulders you stand on, to get out and vote and the other thing is that if you’re not gonna vote you cannot complain about the outcome,” Adams said.
No matter what got them out of bed before the sun rose, voters in Central New York are taking the chance to exercise their rights and to have a say in democracy.