SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Democracy in Action)— Juan Cruz, 76, came to Syracuse from Puerto Rico years ago, and has made it a point to vote whenever he can.
The artist, sculptor and former muralist said he cast his ballot today for Juanita Perez Williams, the Democrat candidate in Syracuse’s mayoral race.
“I’m voting for Juanita. I think it’s time for Hispanics to start getting up,” Cruz said on the morning of the election at the WCNY polling location in West Fayette Street.
According to Cruz, people should think carefully about who they vote for because their votes, collectively, can help decrease political corruption. He says his native Puerto Rico has suffered from this for a long time. This was particularly the case this year after disaster struck the island. Because of a flawed voting system, Puerto Rico and its people have been treated like, as Cruz puts it, “pawns on a chessboard.”
“When I was in Puerto Rico, everyone complained about the politicians. But when it came to the election, they voted for the same damn people,” he said.
Linda Hagger volunteered as an election inspector at the same poll where Cruz voted. Hagger currently works as a personal care assistant for senior citizens, but has over 50 years of work experience in the government and other public service sectors. Hagger said her interest in the election stemmed from her family background.
“My mother was a Republican councilwoman who worked for her people, and my family has always been involved in the election,” Hagger said at the polling location.
Hagger urged residents to come out and vote.
“This is our basic right and people died for this. It’s the best thing – it’s the only way you’re going to make changes and get what you need, is to vote,” she said. “And if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”
The city’s new mayor will be announced tonight.