• Flip the Leg Onondaga County

Legislator Profile: Chris Ryan for District 8

In our next Flip the Leg candidate spotlight, we have had the pleasure of speaking with County Legislator Chris Ryan. Legislator Ryan currently represents the 8th district of the County Legislature and resides in the Town of Geddes.

District 8 includes a portion of the Town of Geddes as well as the following neighborhoods of the City of Syracuse: Downtown, Skunk City, Near West Side, Tipperary Hill, the Northwest Corridor, and Lakefront. Legislator Ryan is the President of the Communications Workers of America, Local 1123.

We talk about Legislator Ryan’s experience at the Legislature and his thoughts on electing more Democrats to join him there in the conversation below:

While serving in the legislature, what work are you most proud of?

Last year, I wrote and sponsored Local Law C that would have created an independent citizen-led redistricting commission that would be truly devoid of politics. As we know, the current district maps of the Onondaga County Legislature were drawn by politicians. Elected officials got to choose their voters instead of voters choosing their elected officials. That’s not my idea of democracy.

In 2017, I worked with County Executive Mahoney and District Attorney Fitzpatrick, leading the charge in the Legislature to adopt a local law to ban outside income by full-time county elected officials. Full-time elected officials should serve only one master: the voters. I was proud that we eliminated the practice of well-compensated full-time elected officials working secondary jobs, some of which were for private, unnamed clients.

Coming from the labor movement and supporting workers every day, I’ve had the opportunity to also serve as a consistent voice for workers and organized Labor on the County Legislature.

Onondaga County government frequently deals with issues relating to Unions so having that in my background has been helpful. For example, this background led me to be an outspoken opponent of the privatization of the Van Duyn nursing home.

As chairman of the County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee, I’ve been proud to support millions of dollars in upgrades to our Emergency 911 infrastructure which is so important.

In that role, I have had the opportunity to advocate for making our criminal justice system fairer to all people. Before New York State passed the Raise the Age legislation, I was able to work with others to ban juvenile solitary confinement in Onondaga County.

Last year, the racial justice movement led to the creation of the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative and I was honored to serve on a committee as part of that effort in Onondaga County. This month the Public Safety Committee approved funding for this effort in collaboration with the City of Syracuse.

I am very proud of the role I’ve played as a Legislator but there is much more work to do.

Why do you feel it is important to Flip the Legislature? What kind of changes might that bring for the people of Onondaga County?

Because after 40+ years of single-party rule in Onondaga County, flipping the legislature would result in much-needed checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches.

When our founding fathers created a government of checks and balances, they did so to make sure that no one branch becomes too powerful. It also allows for better decision-making, bringing people of different perspectives to the table.

The Onondaga County Legislature develops policy and sets the budget for County government which exceeds $1 Billion per year. This includes departments and agencies that impact our environment, public safety, health, social services, parks, facilities, roads, bridges, and economic development.

Electing more Democrats to the County Legislature will ensure that there are more voices at the table representing their constituents to ensure that the best possible decisions are made for the people of our county.

Given the fact that the GOP has held the majority in our County Legislature for more than 40 years, it is hard to overstate what it would mean to flip the leg.

What is your favorite local summertime activity?

My favorite summertime activity is spending time outdoors with my wife and kids. Onondaga County is a great place to live. We’re fortunate to live in a place that has four distinct seasons. Our winters make us appreciate our summers even more. Spring and fall in Central New York are exceedingly beautiful. There is nowhere else I’d rather call home.

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