Welcome back to the #WeeklyWonk. Each weekend I release an article on a subject relating to elections in Onondaga County and New York State. Often these articles will have detailed stats to consume but sometimes they will be a recap of a prominent issue or on relevant election law. I am turning my eye to the 2023 elections. This week I take a break from looking at the political subdivisions and focus on a work item from the Onondaga County Board of elections. Today I look at the Town of Salina, a town that Democrats should be doing better in but are not.
The Town of Salina sits in the northern suburbs sandwiched between Clay and Syracuse. The town of Salina is the opposite of last week’s investigation, the Town of Spafford. The Town of Salina is one of the larger towns in terms of active voters in Onondaga County with 21,865 voters. It is a town that looks like a Democratic town but underperforms on the local level. The makeup of Salina is 36% Democrat (7906 Voters), 27% GOP (5916 Voters), and 30% non-Enrolled (6518 voters). The GOP has been overtaken by the non-enrolled voters and that should be a sign that Salina should take a blue turn. The Town of Salina is one of only two towns that are broken up into wards, meaning they elect their town boards in predetermined areas rather than town wide. There are four town wards in Salina which coincidentally go down in size in terms of Active voters. Ward 1 has 6050 voters (28%), Ward 2 5480 voters (25%), Ward 3 5171 voters (24%), and ward 4 5164 voters (23%).
In a new feature I am bringing to the #weeklywonk this year I am doing a heat map for each political subdivision. I will be looking at the current partisan makeup of each individual ED and heat mapping its partisan lean based on the advantage for the Democrats and GOP. Only two eds, ed Salina 13 & 16 have GOP advantage, and only by less than 1%. Eds 1,5,10, 12,14,15, 25, 28 & 30 have Democratic enrollment advantages of less than 5% making them borderline eds. Eds 2, 8, 11, 17, 21, 22 & 27 have slight Democratic advantages between 5 & 10%. Eds 3, 19, 20, 23, 24, & 29 hove solid Democratic advantages between 10-15%. Eds 4, 6, 7, & 9, have strong democratic advantages between 15-20%. Salina even has 2 eds 18 & 26 that have overwhelming Democratic advantages over 20%.
Since 2009 The Town of Salina has followed the county, where Democrats have made gains, that accelerated in 2016, and the GOP has had a slow steady decline. Since 2009 the Democrats have gained 790 Democratic voters. The GOP on the other hand during that time frame has lost 1059 voters. The Non-enrolled has been the biggest gainer, garnering 1281 more voters. Democrats saw their biggest gains between 2015 and 2020 and have held steady since. The GOP lost dramatically between 2009 and 2015 and then held steady during the Trump years but may be on the decline again. The non-enrolled have had steady gains since 2009 but saw a great deal of their gains since 2020.
The wards in Salina all have solid Democratic enrollments, yet all wards are represented by the GOP for the first time in a generation. The 1st and second districts are where Democrats have had some recent success. Up until 2021 Democrats have held onto the 2nd district councilor. The 1st and 2nd district were very close elections in 2021. While Democrats have better numbers in Ward 1 and Ward 2, the non-enrolled are solidly in 2nd place in Ward 3 & 4.
Looking at the growth of voters since the last redistricting cycle, 2012, we see that the wards grew at about the same rate. Once again, they line up in numerical order as the first ward gained 584 voters. The 2nd Ward gained 546 voters. The 3rd Ward gained 484 voters. The fourth ward gained 342 voters. The Town of Salina decided not to change their districts in this last cycle, however it is doubtful they will be able to do that again in 2030. After the 2020 census all four districts fell within the 5% New York State population guidelines. However, since the two most populous districts, wards 1 & 2, are growing faster than the others, if that pattern holds, they will be forced to make changes after the 2030 census.
The Town of Salina Democratic advantage has grown by 7.12% since 2012. Wards 2 & 4 had the same growth in Democratic advantage by 7.52%. The biggest growth comes in Ward 1, which includes the village of Liverpool. Ward 1 grew by 11.04% since 2012. Ward 3, which is in the northeastern corner of Salina Democrats have grown at the lowest race, only gaining by 1.81%.
When we look at the comparative races, we see a Town that votes Democratic much like the rest of the county. However, when it comes to local races Democrats have not been able to gain a foothold, and in face have lost ground. In 2022 the Town of Salina voted for Governor Hochul’s by 52.75%, just 1.03% worse than her win in Onondaga County rate of 53.78%. In 2021 the Town of Salina voted for Anthony Brindisis for Supreme Court by 50.28%, Brindisi was off by just .32% of the county result rate of 52.50%. In 2020 Salina voted for President Biden 56.73%, though 2.15% points behind his Onondaga County win of 58.88% which is the worst performance among our comparative races. In 2019 Salina voted for Democrat Mark Kolinski for County clerk by just 46.59% losing 1.14% of his Onondaga County rate of 47.73%. Salina seems to run just behind the Onondaga County rates from the major elections, however in local elections the GOP outperforms its registration. In the 2021 open seat for Salina Town Supervisor the GOP candidate Nick Paro had a decisive win with 56.53% of the vote and a 15-point win.
In 2023 the Salina Town Democrats are currently passing petitions for Supervisor and 4 Town Board members, and Town Justice. The town of Salina could be where Manlius was in 2015, at the bottom with no representation and then take over town government in the next few years. However, it will take ground level work and an infusion of members willing to get involved. You can get involved with the Salina Town Democrats by contacting Chris Shepard, the Town Chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That is, it for this week’s edition of the #WeeklyWonk. Next week I will dive into the Town of Camillus, the only other town with a ward system, however it fills its candidates by caucus. As always go to dustinczarny.com and subscribe to get all your content and election news updates. I run that website, along with these series of articles, as part of my voter education. I never take ad money or charge subscriptions paying for the site with my own personal funds. Subscribe here.