Mayor Miner’s Farewell Speech Addresses Uncomfortable Issues in Syracuse

In her farewell address at the end of her last term as the mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner addressed some of the city's most sensitive issues.

Politicians can have a reputation for being indirect, but Syracuse’s Mayor Stephanie Miner combatted that at her farewell address on Friday in Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Miner, who is leaving office in 2018, addressed the controversial issues of gun violence , Black Lives Matter marches and the inequality that permeates the city. Miner stressed that all of these issues are not simple – and when people take to social media to spread rumors, it disrupts the process of finding a common understanding.

Photo: James Sprankle
Outgoing mayor, Stephanie Miner, speaks to an audience of citizens and students during her farewell address at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. The mayor touched on important topics she encountered during her tenure such as gun violence, income inequality and the current state of politics in America.

She said she does not want to ignore the reasons things are the way they are; instead, she said, knowing the facts and understanding the problem is key to solving it.

Another major challenge that Miner addressed was poverty in Syracuse.  She gave several statistics detailing the severity of the poverty cycle that a large chunk of Syracuse citizens live in. Miner focused on the school system, saying that 79% of students are economically disadvantaged.  This turns into a snowball effect for success in school systems. 

"Talent is universal, but opportunity is not," she said. "So why is it when New York spent most per pupil in the United States, that opportunity is not universal? Well, the 'hot take' is that schools are wasting money and teachers are incompetent. But if you look deeper at the data, you will discover that New York state has the most racially segregated schools in the United States.” 

She also said she found irony in the federal government funding schools in need, but taking that funding back when the school starts to perform better. 

This speech symbolically marks the end of Miner's term. She received a standing ovation at the end of her addres. 

Ben Ware, the former dean of the Graduate School, was in attendance and said that Miner's “passion for issues – particularly the black community,” stood out to him. He said that he expected the speech to be lighter but was surprised at the passion Miner showed.

She called being mayor of Syracuse the “privilege of a lifetime.” 

“I didn’t run for office to be someone to love," she said. "I ran to be someone who was respected.” 

As Miner's term comes to a close, there are still issues that need to be addressed and solved in the city of Syracuse. 

“I am concerned about the future," said Ware. "The finances are not bright, and situations that she has dealt with are getting more serious.” 

Miner’s successor will inherit the many complex issues that Miner has worked with as mayor after the 2017 mayoral election on November 7. 

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