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Some people think to become elected means you’ve become a slave, and they talk to you that way
Khalid Bey

Voice For Working Class

Khalid Bey, a newly elected Councilor for the city of Syracuse, embraces the promises made during his campaign to provide a stronger economy for the middle and lower classes.

Early morning snow was falling outside Franklin Elementary School as Khalid Bey, the Fourth District Common Councilor of Syracuse, made his way toward the entrance. Meeting him at the front office was an eager staff member. She asked him to follow her to the gymnasium where his audience would be waiting.

As he was making his way through the halls Bey seemed focused and at the same time relaxed as if he’d done this one hundred times before. A guest speaker at many events, Bey hoped his message would inspire inner strength and empower his audience with a positive mindset toward their future goals. He felt relaxed.

Normally Bey’s speeches would deal with an adult audience, a crowed that could comprehend what he was saying and relate to examples he would use in his stories. Walking into the gymnasium Bey realized that he wouldn't be speaking to an audience that he would be familiar with. Dozens of children from ages five to eight years old, who came up no taller than his waist, ran circles around him as they found their place on the gym floor with the rest of their class.

The counselor guided Bey to the right side of the sage alongside five students from the school. Each student selected to s peak about significant members of the black community. The principal stood in front and welcomed everyone to the presentation honoring Black History Month, and Bey confidently made his way to the podium.

With strides of confidence he made his way to the podium. After a short pause Bey had introduced himself and started his speech to the future leaders of America with “You can be whatever you want to be,” he began. He repeated himself. And this time the children echoed h is message, as if it were scripted.

Knowing he was once in their position – a young boy growing up in the heart of the city of Syracuse – Bey realized how much more significant his job as the economic chairman for the city has become to him. He is responsible for shaping the economy so that when these children become adults; there will be jobs waiting for them.

Working his way into office, Bey campaign pushed the issue of job creation and the support for small business within the city of Syracuse. The approach ultimately worked in his favor as it gained him a seat within Syracuse’s Common Council.

“I personally saw economic development as a strong point for me,” Bey said about his run for office. “Not only because of the personal interest and motivation, but also because, in my opinion, there is a more practical solution for the current economical situation in the city.”

As the Fourth District Common Council his primary duty is to form or repeal ideas for ordinance based upon local or state needs by working with groups and individuals within the community of Syracuse.

When the position for Economic Chairman for the city of Syracuse opened up, Bey was the first to volunteer and accept the responsibilities that came with the job. As economic chairman Bey has to balance many different projects within the city, but the most popular development within the city is the $350 million development of the Inner Harbor.

The project will produce more than 512 new living spaces, making it large enough to be its own town. According to Bey, the installation will provide a potential satellite campus for Onondaga Community College and bring more than 4,000 students. The project will also produce a variety of retail positions, hopefully bringing Syracuse’s jobless rate down form its current eight percent.

“You’re talking 8,000 temporary and permanent jobs, which is major,” Bey said. “A good bulk of the jobs will be in retail, a good bulk of the jobs will the maintaining or keeping of the new property.”

According to Bey there will also be a variety of housing options for seniors looking for townhomes at an affordable rate. A huge part of what will determine the success of the project according to Bey is the amount of jobs that stay local, keeping the money in the state and building a stronger economy in Central New York.

The Harbor already hosts an array of events for the community on the waterfront including concerts, festivals, and fireworks. With many attractions already available and home to surrounding residents the perception of change is a welcomed site for the natives.

Carrie Niland, a graduate of Syracuse University and native of the area, shares her views on what the Inner Harbor project will bring to the city.

“I am surprised to learn that the Inner Harbor project could bring so many jobs to Syracuse,” Niland said. “Syracuse needs a resurgence, really of everything; jobs, industry, and people.”
Reflecting on how vastly things have changed since her childhood, Carrie recalls on how she viewed Onondaga Lake growing up.

“That entire area was known as Oil City - which was exactly as it sounds - filled with oil tanks, junkyards and hazardous-waste sites,” Niland said. “I always find it sad when I drive by Onondaga Lake, knowing what a different place Syracuse would be if the lake was sustainable and not filled with toxic waste.”

“Hopefully, we are going in a good direction and reversing all the destruction we caused the natural landscape of Syracuse for so long,” Niland added.

With the improvement and changes of the Inner Harbor being acknowledged by the pulse of the city, Bey is assured that the effort put in to the project is not in ill will and heading in the direction not only needed, but also wanted to revive the city.

“You wont be able to recognize the city five or ten years from now,” Bey said. “The city will not only look alive, it will feel alive and so will the people.”