The Weekly Wonk: The Town of Camillus

Welcome back to #WeeklyWonk. Each weekend I publish 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. Today I look at the Town of Camillus, a town that is on the edge of becoming competitive for Democrats.

The Town of Camillus is in the western suburbs.  Though it is a medium sized suburban town with 18,844 voters.  Tt doesn’t share a border with Syracuse nestled between Elbridge, Van Buren, and Geddes. The Town of Camillus is considered a purple town with Democrats recently gaining the smallest of a plurality. The makeup of Camillus is 32% Democrat (6103 Voters), 32% GOP (5963 Voters), and 29% non-Enrolled (5431 voters).  One of the few towns that have a near equal share of the three major political identities.  The Town of Camillus is the second of two towns that are broken up into wards, meaning they elect their town boards in predetermined areas rather than town wide.  There are six town wards in Camillus.  Ward 1 has 3263 voters (17%), Ward 2 2880 voters (15%), Ward 3 3093 voters (17%), ward 4 3245 voters (17%), ward 5 3168 voters (17%), and ward 6 3195 (17%).  These wards are fairly equal because the Town Board of Camillus underwent a redistricting process last year that fixed some of the overpopulation.  The wards are similar to the old ones and make sense in terms of geography and shape.  Though to get equal portions they did create a small balloon appendage in ward 3.

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.  We see a wide variety of partisan leans in these eds.  Eds 1,2,7 have a strong GOP advantage between 10-14%. Eds 19 & 23 have alight GOP advantage between 0-5%%.  Eds 5, 6, 10, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 24, 25 have Democratic enrollment advantages of less than 5% making them borderline eds much like the town itself.  Eds 3,9, 11, 12, 13, 21 & 22, have slight Democratic advantages between 5 & 10%.  Only 1 ed, ED 4 has a solid Democratic advantage between 10-15%.  And in a first in this year’s look at individual eds, we come across an ed with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, ed 8.  In general, the western and northern parts of Camillus are more GOP and as you progress into the southeastern corner along with the village of Camillus in the center, we see a more Democratic shift.

Since 2009 The Town of Camillus has seen a radical shift in partisan makeup.  Once a stalwart Republican town, shifting demographics as population shifts saw a growing Democratic population that was supercharged in 2016 gaining 1028 voters.  The GOP on the other hand saw a slow and steady decline losing 498 voters.  The Non-enrolled has been see large gains as well, garnering 998 more voters.   This follows a pattern of other suburban towns like Salina and Manlius.  New voters in terms of age and transplants prefer the Democratic and Non-enrolled registration status as the older GOP population is losing voters and not replacing them.

The wards in Camillus are represented by the GOP, though the representative in Ward 5, Richard Griffo, has won cross endorsement when he has run.  However, these wards reflect the changing nature of Camillus.  Ward 1 and Ward 2, represent the western and northern parts of Camillus have solid GOP leans in their enrollment.   Wards 3,4,5, & 6 all located in the more populous southeastern corners have Democratic pluralities, with Ward 3, the most eastern district, looks the most promising for Democrats with the non-enrolled threatening to overtake the GOP. 

Looking at the growth of voters since the last redistricting cycle we compare it with date from October 2011, before the redistricting of 2012.   The Town of Camillus grew by 2036 active voters since 2011.  Wards 3 the most Democratic and smallest geographic ward, is the biggest gainer with 545 more voters.  Ward 1, the largest geographic ward most GOP ward grew quite a bit, with 471 new voters.  Ward 4 also grew quite a bit with 441 voters.  Ward 2 (+ 179), 5 (+133), 6 (+279) all had moderate growth.  The fluctuations in growth are most likely due to the redistricting earlier this year, mainly to address the overpopulation in Ward 2 and underpopulation in ward 4.

The Town of Camillus Democratic advantage has grown by 8.07% since 2011, which is typical growth we have seen in Onondaga County.   Ward 1, the most GOP district has seen growth in the partisan difference for Democrats as they narrowed the gap by 6.35%.  Ward 2 actually saw GOP growth of .63%, which is mainly due to a Democratic voting block being moved into another ward during redistricting.  The Southeast wards saw the most Democratic growth.  Wards 3 (+8.90%) and Ward 4 (+8.45%) saw strong Democratic growth.  Wards 5 (+12.68%) and Ward 6 (11.41%) saw even stronger Democratic growth. In fact, Wards 3,4,5,6 were all GOP dominated wards in 2011 and now have flipped to have a Democratic plurality.

When we look at the comparative races, we see the duality of a purple town in Onondaga County.  In even years Camillus votes solidly for Democrats at the top of the ticket, and in odd years it votes republican.   In 2022 the Town of Camillus voted for Governor Hochul’s by 50.66%, 3.12% worse than her win in Onondaga County rate of 53.78%. In 2021 the Town of Camillus voted for Anthony Brindisis for Supreme Court by 48.08%, Brindisi was off by 4.42% worse than the county result rate of 52.50%.  In 2020 Camillus voted for President Biden 54.31%, 4.51% points behind his Onondaga County win of 58.88%.  In 2019 Camillus voted for Democrat Mark Kolinski for County clerk by 44.26% losing 3.47% of his Onondaga County rate of 47.73%.  The last head-to-head town office where Democrats contested was Highway Superintendent, and it did not go well for Democrats, losing by over 26%. We see that Camillus is running about 3-4 points behind Onondaga County as a whole because it is near even registration where Onondaga County is more blue leaning registration wise.

In 2023 the Camillus Town Democrats will caucus to find candidates for all 6 ward councils as well as Supervisor, Town Justice, and Highway superintendent.  The Town of Camillus Democrats fill their candidates by caucus.  The Caucus has not yet been scheduled but can be anytime between now and July 27, 2023.  If you are interested in running for any of these offices or want to help the Camillus Democrats contact their chairperson Den Petrick at daniel.e.petrick@gmail.com.

That is, it for this week’s edition of the #WeeklyWonk.  Next week I will dive into the Town of Cicero, the largest GOP town in Onondaga County. 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.

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