City Hall portaits: Van the man

Councilor Robinson is working hard toward a brighter Syracuse for all:

As affable as City Councilor at Large, Van Robinson may appear -- don't underestimate his intellect and deep knowledge of city matters. This dapper 70-year-old gentleman is well versed in government affairs, urban revitalization, city operations, people management and mentoring, organizations, neighborhoods, numbers and history. In essence, he is a researcher and a critical thinker, and for him, Syracuse's best years are ahead.

As a councilor at large, he looks at overall city issues, such as taxation, housing and water. He is specifically in charge of neighborhood preservation, downtown and regional planning and oversees the homeless taskforce.

The district councilors have a certain area of the city they claim as their own, wherein the voters in that district look to them as the first line of defense. But they also oversee overall committees, for example, Kathleen Joy heads the economic development committee; Ryan McMahon chairs finance; while Stephanie Minor oversees education.

In the beginning

Without a notion of going into city governance, Robinson was appointed by Mayor Matt Driscoll to fill out a term for a retiring councilor. He had originally said, "No" several times. He is now in his second and final term as common councilor at large. He said Syracuse is the only municipality to have term limits in the state of New York.

It was legislation led by then councilor Joe Nicoletti after the late Mayor Lee Alexander's reign.

Robinson doesn't think term limits are always the best approach because of the long-term nature of many city projects.

"You have long term projects that keep getting handed off," Robinson said. "Let the people decide."

When someone comes into office they first must assess what the issues are, then, there is a great deal of time spent getting up to speed before they can act wisely.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment