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 start my #Fliptheleg series looking at each of the 17 Onondaga County Legislative races. Today I look at Onondaga County Legislative seat #9 representing the mostly the Eastwood and Lincoln Hill portions of Syracuse but stretching into the university and East side along with a few blocks of Sedgewick.
This seat went under dramatic changes in 2010 as it was basically combined with the old OCL 7 and drawn in a way to consolidate Democrats under one representative. Both Sam Laguzza (D) in neighboring OCL 16 and Tom Buckle (D) in neighboring OCL 7 were not running for re-election. This along with the loss of 2 OCL seats gave the GOP majority on the redistricting commission another opportunity to stack and crack Democrats into one district using weird shapes to re-draw districts to benefit a GOP supermajority. They took portions of OCL 7 and OCL 16 and packed them into the new OCL 9 making a very safe Democratic seat and even made sure OCL 9 extended a few blocks to encompass the house of OCL minority leader Mark Stanczyk (D). This assured a strong incumbent was relegated to a safe Democrat seat allowing Danny Liedka (R) to run for the newly drawn OCL 7 and win.
The redistricting created a legislative district that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Democrats account for 50% of the district while Republicans make up just 17%. Non-enrolled voters account for 27% of the registered voters outnumbering the GOP voters by quite a bit. This district is one of only two that is wholly inside the City of Syracuse. It is mostly dominated by Eastwood (Ward 5 47%) and Lincoln Hill (Ward 6 27%) but has portions of the Northside (Wards 1 4%, Ward 3 5%, Ward 4 5%) and the University (Ward 16 3%), and the east side (Ward 17 4%).
Like the City of Syracuse that encompasses it his Democratic district has only gotten more Democratic over time. Since 2011 the Democrats have gained 229 voters and the GOP has lost 466 voters. Non-enrolled has grown by 326 voters. All three populations have seen a decrease in enrollment since the 23020 election. This is because urban cores usually lost voters after a Presidential election when lists are cleaned up. This is especially so with university districts where graduating students move and incoming freshman may not decide to enroll in their new community right away.
There really isn’t a GOP friendly portion of the district, though Eastwood (Ward 5) is less dominated by Democrats than the other portions of the district. There are 230 percent more Democrats than GOP in Ward 5, compare with 370 percent in Ward 6, and 403 percent more Democrats in the rest of the district So Eastwood dominates the district in population and is slightly more conservative than the rest of the district.
In 2011 Bob Andrews ® challenged incumbent Mark Stanczyk (D) and lost by 763 votes. The district was drawn to be Democratic and performed that way. Mark Stanczyk then took a job with Onondaga County in 2014 and Bob Andrews was selected by then County Executive Joannie Mahoney to fill his vacancy. It was short lived though. Even the power of incumbency and name recognition could not save this seat for the GOP. Peggy Chase (D) defeated Andrews by 186 votes. Two years later in a re-match Peggy Chase successfully defended her seat winning by 292 votes. The GOP did not run a candidate in 2017 and in 2019 in a three way race Chase won over Kevin Kuehner (R) by 1461 votes.
The comparative races also show a district that is dominated by Democrats. In 2019 the district supported the Democrat in all 3 races with a 13-point margin for Malevenda for County Executive, over 20-point margin for Kolinski for County Clerk, and an outstanding over 29-point margin for Marty Masterpole in the Comptroller race. In 2020 Dana Balter solidly beat Katko by over 27 points without even looking at the votes on the WFP line for another candidate who was left on the ballot due to an error. Rachel May dominated the NY Senate run winning over 37 points. Biden saw an overwhelming support with an over 44-point margin of victory.
Peggy Chase (D) is the current representative of OCL 9 and has a GOP challenger this year. Peggy is a dedicated retired nurse who fought for expanding healthcare services during the pandemic only to be shot down by the GOP caucus. Her GOP challenger is well funded and connected in Eastwood so this race may be more competitive than in past elections Peggy Chase can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PeggyChaseForSYR and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PeggyChaseSYR