Wonky Wednesday:  The Town of Salina


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 Salina.

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The Town of Salina is the direct northern suburb of Syracuse nestled between it and the Town of Clay.  It occupies the eastern shores of Onondaga Lake and stretches west until it hits Dewitt.  It is the last large suburban town in my 2021 series looking at all the Towns of Onondaga. Inside of Salina are many different neighborhoods.  The Village of Liverpool is one of the most distinct villages in Onondaga County. Mattydale and Lyncourt are other non-formal neighborhoods incorporated into the town.  The town is split into two different Legislative districts OCL 4 represented by Judy Tassone who is retiring and OCL 5 represented by Deborah Cody, the executive director of the Onondaga County GOP.  It is also one of two towns separated into ward systems with 4 wards that make up representation on the Town Board instead of at-large positions.

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Salina is one of the more popular towns in Onondaga County. At just over 22k voters it is the 4th most populous town.  It is a suburban town with housing subdivisions villages, and apartment complexes that is driving growth.  Like with other areas of Onondaga County we see steady growth in voter registration since 2015.  This is likely due to population increases as well as better voter registration tools in New York.  We also aw the typical large jump in enrollment we saw during the 2020 Presidential Election.

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The Town of Salina is a solid Democratic town in registration.  Democrats have 36% plurality and GOP 27%.  However non-enrolled voters have now surpassed GOP with 29% enrollment. Only two other political subdivisions have this dynamic, Syracuse and Dewitt which are Democrat dominated areas. It is surprising however that the GOP dominates elected office in this town.  The 4 wards in Salina seem to be slightly out of balance and when census data comes in there could be a chance for changes in structure next year.

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Salina is following the trend of suburban areas over the last few years.  Since 2009 it has gone from a basically even enrolled town to large split between Democrats and GOP.  Democrats have steadily and consistently grown in registration in Salina.  At the same time the GOP registration has decreased substantially.  Democrats have added 899 voters since October of 2009 while the GOP has lost 900 voters. The inverse correlation is dramatic and interesting to observe.  The Non-enrolled has grown the most however adding 1144 voters.  This is where the opportunity lies for Democrats, reaching the new portion of their electorate who may not have voted in local elections as well as convincing the growing non-enrolled voters to embrace their candidates.

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The ward system in Salina separates the town board into 4 different sections.  It may surprise some to see that Democrats dominate the registration even inside the wards.  The only elected Democrat on the Town Board has been in Ward 2, which represents the middle part of Salina between the village of Liverpool and Mattydale.  With retiring Town Board member James Maganarelli Democrats will have to defend this open seat.  However, in terms of registration Ward 1 is, in terms of registration, the most Democratic.  Traditionally Democrats were thought to be at a disadvantage in Liverpool, but the numbers are showing this can, and should, be an opportunity.  Ward 4 (Mattydale) and Ward 3 Lyncourt have moderate Democratic advantages as well.  In the past Democrats have not put-up full field of candidates, but that is changing this year. It will be interesting to see if they can take advantage of this growing registration advantage.

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The significant six races provide some evidence that Democrats in the town are embracing Democratic candidates when given a choice. In 2019 Ryan McMahon dominated the County Executive race as he did in most towns.  However, the County Clerk race was in single digits.  Also, the race between Beadnell and Masterpole for County Comptroller was tantalizing close with just .34% difference.  In 2020 with higher turnout, we can see Democrats in the town did much better.  Balter did come in second to Katko, though she did much better here than most Towns losing by just 3.9%.  However, if we add the 4.73% of vote cast for Steve Williamson the WFP line more people voted for Democratic candidate for congress than GOP.  Rachel May solidly beat her opponent by nearly 7 points and President Biden dominated Trump winning by almost 16 points.  

The Town of Salina Democrats have nominated a full slate of candidates for the 2021 election.  Kathy Zabinski is running for Town Supervisor, Aaron Buchta is running for 1st Ward, Leesa Paul is running for 2nd District, Tina Fitzgerald is running for 3rd District, and Duane Main for 4th District.  The Democrats have also nominated Anthony Lavalle for Town Judge.  Finally, the two County Legislative seats Democrats have nominated Stephon Williams in OCL 4 and Jana Rogers in OCL 5.  If you are interested in helping or joining the Town of Salina Democrats contact Town Chair Chris Shepard at syrvmguy@hotmail.com

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