Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News)- Oftentimes, an Election Day that comes on a year where there is no presidential election will have a low turnout. Turnout gets even worse when there’s no other federal officials on the ballot, and lower still when the major state offices are also not up for grabs.
You wouldn’t know that from standing in the Erwin First United Methodist Church today though. Interest in the 2019 election was plenty strong as Onondaga County voters went to the polls to decide critical races at the county level.
“County executive is the big one,” said Peg O’Hara, who brought her brother Kevin to vote at Erwin this morning. “Also, the district attorney.”
“I’d like to see a change in county government,” said Mary O’Connor. “I’m more concerned with the district attorney than the county executive.”
Throughout the morning it was clear the two biggest things on the minds of voters were the race between Republican incumbent Ryan McMahon and Democrat Tony Malavenda for Onondaga County Executive and the race between seven-term incumbent Republican William Fitzpatrick and Democrat Chuck Keller for District Attorney.
“I think there has to be a broader representation in county government, that’s one of my concerns” said O’Connor. “I think it’s time for a change. The District Attorney, that’s a real issue, we need to replace our District Attorney. He’s been there for a long time and I think it’s time for a change. It’s the reason I’m here to vote.”
Ben Switalski agreed that the hotly contested county races were the big draw of the day for voters.
“The Onondaga County elections will bring a lot of people,” said Switalski. “A lot of publicity for that Malevenda and MacMahon race. It’s a big one.”
However, the voters of Syracuse’s 17th Ward expressed strong displeasure with the unsavory turn the races had taken, in particular the animosity shown in campaign ads in the final days between McMahon and Malevenda.
“They’re both kinda going for the jugular in a kinda dirty kinda way,” said Switalski. “I guess it’s sort of the bottoms dropped out a little bit. I think politics has always been like sausage, you don’t want to see how it’s made.”
“There’s no reason for all this negative stuff, regardless of what level,” said O’Hara. “I’m old enough, I remember when there was some negative stuff early on, but it wasn’t 90 percent negative and ten percent positive. It shouldn’t be. This is ridiculous. They all need to do their jobs. Forget the advertising. They need to do their jobs.”
Polls remain open in Onondaga County until 9:00 p.m. tonight.