SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – A vacancy on the Syracuse Common Council looks to be filled soon. A list of 15 candidates is now down to two to become the next common councilor at-large. The two candidates, Adam Crowley and Ronnie White Jr., interviewed with the Council on Tuesday, and two key points of discussion during those interviews were Verizon 5G in Syracuse and combatting the high rate of poverty in the city.
Crowley worked for Legal Services of Central New York as a lawyer, and he is currently an academic advisor in the Renee Crown University Honors Program at Syracuse University. He also practiced corporate litigation in New York City.
White is also an attorney and currently owns his own legal practice. The Council hired White to represent as its own legal counsel concerning issues surrounding the Right to Know law. White previously worked for Mackenzie Hughes law firm and for the Onondaga County law department.
A Verizon 5G data network became operational in Syracuse just two weeks ago, which made Syracuse one of the first cities in the country to operate a citywide 5G network. Even though it could be a major positive for the city, Crowley is worried it could have a disproportionate effect on the city’s population.
“I’m very concerned that that’s going to be done in an inequitable way,” Crowley said. “I want to make sure that every neighborhood in this city has access to reliable and consistent internet.”
Along with that concern, White added that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the importance of reliable internet, especially for low-income students and families.
“The current situation with the pandemic has shown us that access to internet is important so that these students are capable of receiving the learning that’s provided to them virtually,” White said.
The 5G network coverage is only available along the South Salina street corridor and from little Italy to the western limits of Sedgwick on the city’s North side. Expansion to other parts of the city is possible.
The data network affects low-income residents as well, and poverty is a significant issue in Syracuse. As of 2019, almost one-third of city residents live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Crowley said it’s the biggest issue the city faces.
“Fundamentally, the problems in our city go back to poverty,” Crowley said. “They go back to lack of opportunity.”
White said he is interested in filling the vacancy because he wants to help people less fortunate than him.
“I have this knowledge, I have this expertise, and I shouldn’t just be sitting on the sidelines and watching things happening and commenting on Facebook,” White said. “I should actually roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
The vacancy on the Council emerged when Common Councilor At-Large Tim Rudd resigned, effective Oct. 1st, to become Mayor Ben Walsh’s budget director. After Tuesday’s interviews, the Council will vote on whether Crowley or White will fill Rudd’s seat.
The chosen candidate will be a councilor at-large through the end of 2021 at a minimum.