Our city has a rich history of diversity and tolerance. A city that not only embraced change during challenging times, but was at the forefront of change — in economic reform, school policy, community development, law enforcement and in addressing public service needs.
But, Syracuse is not perfect. We have real problems that must be faced head on. These challenges may seem impossible, frightening and intimidating. This is why we need to take action — not as individuals, but as a community. Get to know your neighbors, volunteer, network, join social justice groups and take action around a cause that matters. Create new friendships with people outside of your comfort zone and get organized. Reinvest in our city and it will pay back dividends.
I have been involved in many city organizations and community groups, and have observed Ben actively engaged throughout the years. While many political leaders join different boards and social groups leading up to their campaign, Ben has been consistent in his support. He meets with people on their terms, in places where they feel comfortable, and where the problem is occurring. I have attended meetings where Ben was present to discuss youth violence on the southside, address community concerns and human service needs on the westside, discussions on arts and culture in downtown, and urban planning forums in the Westcott area, all of which took place years before he announced he was running for mayor.
We need to do more to make our city schools safer for students and teachers, and make quality education more accessible for everyone. We lose a lot of local families to the suburbs because they are afraid of enrolling their children in city schools. I have also met more parents in the last few years that have decided to homeschool their children or send them to private schools. With this loss of homeowners leaving to the suburbs, working class parents sending their kids to private institutions and joining homeschool networks, our city schools and neighborhoods have become more segregated and economically divided. It feels like we are going backwards.
I believe Ben is the right person to get City Hall, the Syracuse City School District, the county and community leaders to come together and work towards a common goal. A strategic plan can only be effective if all the stakeholders involved are on the same page and in agreement with its objectives. Ben has a good pulse on our city schools and has a great working relationship with its leaders. His mother was a former teacher at Fowler High School; he has worked with both Mayor Driscoll and Miner, and his daughter is enrolled in the city school district. He has attended and participated in many school related programs, education forums and engaged with academic projects supported by the city and the nonprofits that he serves as a board member. This level of work with our kids and having his own child enrolled in our school district, reflects on his commitment to further invest in our education system and its students.
Our city, county and state leaders have been at odds for almost a decade. These internal conflicts between political parties, business affiliations and personal differences are ripping our city apart. We have lost local investment opportunities, witnessed development projects idling, long litigations over contract manipulation and seeing jobs with living wages disappearing from our area. We need someone that is not beholden to any party, and is determined to break barriers and divides. Someone that knows how to collaborate with others, get buy-in from key influencers and support the greater good for the city. This person also needs to have strong emotional intelligence to work “with and for” the people, and possess critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help the city move forward in the right direction. I support Ben because I believe he has these qualities and skillsets.
Dr. Emad Rahim, 39, has lived on the westside of Syracuse for over 30 years. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Good Life Youth Foundation, the Onondaga Community College Foundation and is a member of the advisory committee for the Southside Innovation Center. Rahim is deeply involved in civic life and his favorite aspects of city living are the short distance to parks like Upper Onondaga, Onondaga Lake, Thornden and Barry, as well as a walkable downtown, and great options for local coffee shops, such as Recess, Café Kubal, Strong Hearts and Freedom of Espresso. See more from Dr. Rahim here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn6tCmtNUsg&t=28s
Photo credit: Ana Gil-Taylor