Jennifer Owens flag

When my husband John and I moved back to Syracuse 14 years ago, we were looking for a connection to other young professionals in the city. I heard about a group that was meeting to brainstorm practical ways that we could get younger people to engage in the design of the city’s future. Those meetings culminated in the creation of 40 Below. I met Ben when we were working together to take 40 Below from a concept to a reality, a goal that took lots of effort from all of us. Ben didn’t shy away from putting in the time and hard work necessary to realize our collective goal.

Between then and now, I’ve watched as Ben worked diligently – oftentimes behind the scenes and without seeking recognition – to move other community efforts forward. From helping businesses as the city’s economic development director to his leadership on several nonprofit boards, he is someone who does not shy away from service to our Syracuse community and its people.

His dedication to Syracuse is matched only by his optimism about its future. I’ve been inspired by his track record of working with people from all different backgrounds in a variety of situations. By listening and finding common ground, he is able to identify solutions to the problems that would otherwise hold our city back.

I’m a proud Democrat who believes that its time for an independent, hard worker like Ben to lead our city as its next mayor. We have seen what happens when we allow our party labels to keep us from supporting the best candidate, or fail to work together across the aisle to implement common sense solutions to our problems, both great and small.

I share this picture of my daughters on their first day of school as incoming 2nd and 5th graders in the Syracuse City School District for a reason. I love how visibly excited they are as they anticipate another year full of new experiences. When I look at this picture I also feel a great sense of responsibility. I want to show them with actions, not just words, that they are expected to treat others with kindness and respect even when they disagree, that they should do what is right even if it’s not what is popular, and that collecting a diversity of opinions on important decisions leads to better outcomes. Ben Walsh lives his life by these principles. I support Ben because when he is mayor my daughters will have the rare opportunity to observe these principles in action in an elected leader. Politics may be ugly, but leadership doesn't have to be.

Jennifer Owens, 42, lives in the Strathmore neighborhood of Syracuse with her husband, John, their two daughters, Maggie and Caroline, and their rescue dog, Steve. She is a nonprofit executive who volunteers her time for several local nonprofits and projects, including serving on the board of Syracuse Community Connections (Southwest Community Center).