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Eye on the Syracuse mayoral race

Q&A with Walt Dixie: PACs from communities of color contemplate candidates

Walter Dixie grew up in the inner-city, went away to Ithaca College, and came back to dedicate his energy to the local communities of color. He is the sparkplug for the local-based Alliance Network and the local chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network. He has provided energy and direction for Jubilee Homes, rehabilitating almost 100 houses over the past two decades on the city's near southwest side, and more recently for Youth Build, an educational and skill training program for youth in the building trades.

"As long as we don't understand business and opportunities, we'll be living with the results of a failed system," he says.

An advocate of self-reliance, he was buoyed by the campaign of hope waged by Barrack Obama last year, and by the enthusiastic response from local voters of color. He had hoped to see a similar emergence in this year's mayoral race, but so far he has been disappointed. Mostly he misses the energy and idealism Howie Hawkins brought to the race with his Green Party campaign four years ago. "Alfonso is raising issues, and that's good," he observes. "But it's really coming down to Joe and Stephanie."

He recalls growing up in what he describes as a melting pot in the old 15th Ward, and the strong sense of community shared by his neighbors.

"The question is," he says, suggesting a focus for dealing with the issues of today's inner-city, "how do we get back to that?

I could live in Madison Towers if I wanted to, but I live on South Geddes because I want to. Some of us need to live in the community, and walk out of the house in a suit and tie doing business and show it's not all selling drugs, homeless, unemployed. It's taking a moral responsibility to say, 'What can I do to come back and help build our community?' It takes one person at a time to come back, to embrace community."

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