Welcome back to Wonky Wednesday. Each week I do a deep dive into the election and registration data that makes up the electoral landscape of our home, Onondaga County. I hope by looking into this data we can glean that this everchanging county is not monolithic as once thought and competition for Democrats, and all registrations, can be found everywhere. This week I investigate the Town of Manlius..
The Town of Manlius sits on the Eastern border of Onondaga County. This is one of the largest towns in Onondaga County, second only to Clay. There are three villages in this town, Fayetteville, Manlius, and Minoa. The three villages along with the numerous housing developments give this town a definitive suburban feel. Some of the county’s most affluent citizenry live here and for generations this has been known as a GOP dominated town…till recently that is.
Manlius has seen a large growth in registered voters over the last few years as has Onondaga County as a whole. The ample housing and well-regarded school district has garnered the attention of new residents as well as those moving out of the City of Syracuse. This along with growing rental communities has transformed this bright red town to not just purple but a growing shade of blue.
It certainly will surprise many long time Onondaga County political activists to learn that Democrats don’t just outnumber the GOP, they have now come to dominate with a 7% registration plurality. The town itself is split up into three different legislative districts all held by Republicans. OCL 10 takes up most of the center of town and is currently an open seat with longtime legislator Kevin Holmquist retiring. OCL 3 is the northern part of Manlius and folds into Cicero represented by Tim Burtis. Finally, one solitary ED on the southern part of town is in OCL 12 occupied by Dave Knapp.
Since 2009 the GOP has been in a steady decline in the Town of Manlius. Older voters either moving away or passing on have made way to a bumper crop of new residents that have a farther left ideology. The Democrats remarkable gains since 2016 in our county can be seen in the Manlius electorate. Unlike some other towns the GOP has not matched that gain and has continued to decline since 2016 as well. In fact the non-enrolled voter segment threatens to soon overtake GOP registration if trends continue. It’s obvious that newer residents are Democratic, and many GOP residents are shedding their party label and becoming non-enrolled.
Manlius will likely be a major battleground in the fight for control of the Onondaga County legislature. OCL 10 has been nail bitingly close the last two elections and one can see why. The Democratic enrollment has skyrocketed. With it now being an open seat, it is seen as one of the best shots for Democrats to flip a GOP controlled seat. This is one of only two seats that is wholly contained inside a town. Manlius is so large it would be impossible for it to be represented by just one legislator, however the redistricting commission in 2011 split the remaining segments into two different county legislative seats. In both cases the segments of Manlius that were sent to other districts were paired with much more GOP leaning areas of the county.
It is not just in registration that Democrats have seen gains in the Town of Manlius, but also in performance. In our significant six races the Manlius has been one of the best performing towns outside of Dewitt. In 2019 the County Executive and County Clerk races race were awfully close, and Marty Masterpole’s performance in Manlius is one of the main reasons he defeated Matt Beadnell. In 2019 the Town board was swept by Democrats flipping a 5-1 GOP majority to 5-1 Democratic majority. In 2020 Democratic dominance continued. Manlius was one of two towns Dana Balter won, and John Mannion’s dominance in Manlius propelled the 50th Senate seat into Democratic hands for the first time ever. Finally, Joe Biden won over 60% of the vote, one of the best showing in Onondaga County.
The Town of Manlius Democrats have already nominated candidates as they designate candidates by petition. Current Town Board member John Deer is running for Supervisor in an open seat as the current supervisor has decided not to seek re-election. Katelyn Kriesel and Sara Bollinger are running for re-election to the Town Board and newcomer William Nicholson is running for the third seat. David Rothchild is running for Town Judge which is also an open seat. If you wish to get involved with the Manlius Democratic Committee contact chair Prerna Deer at email@example.com and the Manlius Democratic Committee can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ManliusDems