City of Syracuse Could Appoint First LGBTQ+ Councilor City of Syracuse Could Appoint First LGBTQ+ Common Councilor

Monto and Davis Vie for Open 5th District Position

KARL WINTER: 47-year-old Jimmy Monto was born in Syracuse’s Eastwood neighborhood. Monto told the Common Council in a public interview on Friday that he would be the City’s first openly gay Councilor.

JIMMY MONTO: It’s not lost on me.

WINTER: Monto pleaded guilty for misdemeanor tax fraud a decade ago, and says it’s important for him NOT to run from his past.

MONTO: I could redeem myself not only in the eyes of everyone around me, but in my own eyes

WINTER: Monto already won the Democratic nomination for the November election, but he OR Alfonso Davis could be chosen to serve for the rest of 20-22. Monto will continue working with L-G-B-T-Q-plus groups either way.

MONTO: I wear this progress flag on my lapel, and I plan to do so for every single Council meeting if I am lucky enough to sit on that body

WINTER: City Clerk Patricia McBride says IF the Council chooses to fill the seat, the choice will be announced at the August 22nd meeting. Karl Winter, N-C-C News.

Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) — Two Democrats applied to fill the 5th District vacancy on the City of Syracuse’s Common Council.

One, Alfonso Davis, is a three-time mayoral candidate seeking his first public office position.

The other, Jimmy Monto, seeks to make history as the first openly LGBTQ+ Councilor in the city’s history.

“I don’t think that it’s purposeful, on the part of the city, that it hasn’t happened, ” Monto said. “I just think maybe we’re at a different time; it just took somebody to step up.”

Why is the 5th District Position Vacant?

The position opened when Mayor Ben Walsh chose Councilor Joe Driscoll to oversee the I-81 project in June.

The Council hosted public interviews in its chambers Friday morning, allowing each Councilor to question the candidates prior to choosing an appointee to temporarily fill the position.


Monto fielded questions about his position in the LGBTQ+ community (“it’s not lost on me”), his misdemeanor tax fraud case (“I won’t run from it”) and his positions in local neighborhood groups. Davis gave answers about his top priorities in the community (“gun safety”), his former role in the Syracuse City School District and his focus on small businesses.

If the Council chooses to fill the seat, the choice will be announced at the Aug. 22 regular meeting, according to City Clerk Patricia McBride. If not, the position could remain vacant until the November election.


City Councilors around a table with Jimmy Monto to the far right
All eight sitting members of the Syracuse Common Council question Jimmy Monto during an interview Aug. 5.
© 2022 Karl Winter

The Onondaga County Democratic Committee selected Monto as its nominee for the position, simply choosing a nominee because there was not enough time for a primary. Monto will be on the ballot Nov. 8, with a good chance to win the seat and hold it until Driscoll’s former term ends Dec. 31, 2023.

Between seeking the appointment now and campaigning later, and potentially again in 2023, Monto said “it’s a lot.”

“I knew what I was getting myself into when I threw my name in the hat,” Monto said.

Davis’ and Monto’s resumes are available here.


Alfonso Davis in the Common Council chambers
Alfonso Davis responds to questions from the Common Council. Davis has worked for the Syracuse Housing Authority and the Syracuse City School District, and now sells insurance.
© 2022 Karl Winter

Monto’s Potential Representation of the LGBTQ+ Community

Monto, 47, is the vice president of development for CNY Pride, and is also involved in other community groups like the Eastwood Neighborhood Association — the neighborhood in which he was born and raised.


While he said he may have to “pare down” his local involvement for the sake of time management if he joins the Common Council, the representation of the LGBTQ+ community would not cease.

“I wear this progress flag on my lapel, and I plan to do so for every single council meeting if I am lucky enough to sit on that body,” Monto said.

He hopes to show young gay kids what is possible and stand against the bullying of the gay community.

“It changes how your life unfolds, when you are bullied,” Monto said. “That’s not over just because we have marriage equality or we think that there are laws on the books helping — that is not over.”

He lives with his husband of 21 years in Eastwood.

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