Wonky Wednesday:  Town of Spafford

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 Spafford.

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The Town of Spafford sits in the Southwestern corner of our county sandwiched between Otisco and Skaneateles lake.  This mostly agrarian town has no villages or urban centers. It is wholly inside the 6th Onondaga County Legislative district currently represented by Julie Abbott Keenan seeking her 3rd term.  

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Spafford is one of the smaller towns in terms of voter registration, smaller than a few City of Syracuse wards.  Their voter registration has remained basically stable since 2009. The jumps in 2019 and 2020 are probably not permanent increases but the reflection of normal increases associated with Presidential elections.  Without a lot of rental and housing developments it is unlikely that a major population surge can happen in this small town.

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The current registration of the Town of Spafford shows a solid GOP town.  Republicans make up 44% of the town with Democrats at 27%.  Non-enrolled (BLK) voters’ makeup 23% of the town.  Spafford has just two election districts.  The 1st Election District is only the northern 3rd of the town; however, it contains more residents than the southern 2/3rds of the town in the second Election District.

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The GOP domination in enrollment of this town remains though their registration has plateaued as of late.  Democrats have increased their numbers as of late but only slightly. The largest increase is in the non-enrolled population.  This non-enrolled population has truly behaved as a swing electorate in this town over the last few years.

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The two election districts are not drastically different in terms of party enrollment, but they are distinct.  The smaller in area but more populous 1st district has a little less extreme disadvantage for Democrats.  It is clear though in both districts Democrats need help from the non-enrolled to overcome the GOP advantages.

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The significant six races provide some evidence that a Democrat and non-enrolled is possible under the right circumstances.  Much like other Southwestern towns like Marcellus and Skaneateles, in 2019 the GOP candidates for County Executive, County Clerk, and County Comptroller had solid margins of victory in this town.  The same dynamic happened in 2020 with Congress with Katko winning a sizable share.  We again see though a virtual tie for NYS Senate and Biden winning this town by 5 points.  The Democrats have won town wide office here, controlling majority on the Town Board and the Highway Superintendent.  In the past they have also controlled the Supervisor.

The Town of Spafford Democrats have already nominated their candidates for town office by petition last March.  Christine Fesko and Hannah Tighe are running again for Town Board and Jody Fisher is running for Highway Superintendent.   If you are interested in getting involved contact Spafford Town Democratic Chair David Hempson and you can contact him at dhempson24@gmail.com

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