Remarks from Butternut/Pond Northside TNT Candidate Forum


Good evening. My name is Frank Cetera and I am running for 2nd District City Councilor here in the great Open City of Syracuse NY. The 2nd district encompasses the west end of the city from Bellevue and Onondaga Blvd up through Skunk City, Tipp Hill, Park Ave, Lakefront, Franklin Square, part of North Salina St, and the north side west of Court Street.  Thank you for inviting me to this event.   



I grew up in a small coal mining town in Southwest Pennsylvania in a Polish-Italian family to hardworking parents.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom while also maintained a business as a hairstylist in our basement.  My father, after returning from the Vietnam War, first labored on the tracks and then worked for over 30 years as a coal train conductor, and member of the United Mine workers of America.  I’m proud to follow in his footsteps as a union member, as I currently serve as delegate-at-large for Professional Administrators at Onondaga Community College with the OCC-FTA local of NYSUT, AFL-CIO.  And I have just received the endorsement of CSEA region 5 - the public service employees union here in Syracuse.  I made Syracuse my home after I earned a Master's degree in Forestry at SUNY ESF and met some of the best people I have known in my life while engaging in social and environmental activism here.  (I also hold a Masters of Science degree in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock in Pennsylvania).


I am serving my 5th year on the Cooperative Federal Credit Union Board of Directors, the 4th as President of that organization located at 800 North Salina St (and with branches on Westcott St and at the Southwest Community Center) which is a mission-driven federally recognized Community Development Financial Institution, the only one of it's kind in Syracuse.  As part of a stalwart team of staff and volunteers, we manage over $22 million in assets, and invest over 100% of those funds back into the city of Syracuse.  Through my day job as a NYS certified small business advisor I help individuals with business planning, financial analysis and pro-forma creation for start-ups, market research, and strategic planning.  Over the course of the last few years as a full-time advisor, I have worked with clients to create over $2 million dollars in economic investment and over 150 jobs.  I understand community finance and what it takes to help people to succeed.


I founded a non-profit corporation that has converted 5 unused urban grassy spaces into productive food gardens and landscapes; I  volunteer clearing snow from elderly residents' sidewalks and from around bus stop corners with Westside Walks and I helped to start, along with the Westside Residents Coalition, the Adopt-a-TrashCan program to reduce litter on our streets.  I currently serve in a leadership capacity as a city-wide TNT Board Member representing the westside, and I am one of the founders of the Marcellus-Otisco-Gifford neighborhood watch group.


Living on the Near West Side, I understand very well that crime is an issue of tremendous concern….68.2 % poverty. I support policies that help put city residents to work - like a local hiring ordinance - and provide an opportunity to work and live above the poverty line.  My campaign canvassing team has collected over 200 petition signatures as part of the Urban Jobs Task Force campaign.  We also nee dot look at how other communities have been able to successfully reduce crime providing more treatment services and youth programming, rather than a focus on detention and jailing.


Even though this is my first time running as a candidate, I have the experience of working on 7 different campaigns dating back to 2010 from the local level (2 common council, 1 commissioner of education, 1 mayor), to the regional level (24th district congress) to the statewide level (2 gubernatorial races).

I decided to run for City Council, because I am certain that I can do a better job than the current incumbent representing the 80% of the 2nd district that is experiencing 30% and higher poverty rates among it's residents.  I’m ready to take my experience in community activism, my knowledge in business development and community finance, and my skills in green and sustainable development straight to the city government.


The goal of city government should be to end poverty in our city so that all residents can have a dignified life, with living wage jobs, fully funded schools, and responsive city government.

Every week, we hear about the record poverty plaguing our city and the city council has yet to put forward any solid plans or policies to address this crisis.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here this evening. I look forward to taking your questions and hearing your concerns and sharing my ideas for how we can make Syracuse a City that works for all of us.   I’m asking you to vote for me not only because you believe in me and my skills, experiences, knowledge, and ability, but also because I believe in you.  And I want to take your voice to city government.


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