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Jean Kessner wants to deconstruct

Former television reporter runs at-Large

If you take stimulus money and go out and knock a building down, Jean Kessner says, a few people are employed for a few days. But if you use that money to train people in deconstruction or in retrofitting houses, like installing solar panels, you've created new companies. That's the kind of big picture she sees as the future. In part, the vision comes from 15 years as an investigative reporter for WIXT-Channel 9, where she focused on the environment and won awards from the Sierra Club, the Clean Water Group and the Injured Workers Group. She also snagged an Edward R. Morrow Award.

"News was my business for so long that I can't help but pay close attention to daily newspaper and television accounts about what's going on in our city," she wrote to City Democratic Party Committee Members last February. "My reaction is a mix of despair, defiance and determination to do something about it."

She was asking for support in seeking the party's nomination for Syracuse Common Councilor at-Large. An unsuccessful candidate for city school board in 2008, Kessner knows the political ropes from inside, as a former staffer at party headquarters, a veteran door knocker in local and national campaigns, phone banking and hosting coffees for senior citizens.

She is currently public relations director for AIDS Community Resources.

What motivated you to seek this nomination?

I don't like people who criticize and then don't do something themselves.

Were you finding yourself becoming one of those people who criticize when you were in the media?

Yes. I don't think you can help, when you're immersed in the function of the city and the dysfunction of the city, to not say perhaps there's a better way, about anything you encounter. If someone gets killed. If someone drops out of school. If someone's house burns down. If you're paying attention, everything you might run into as a reporter is something that you have a feeling about. The stuff I found out about, the stuff I really still stay up on, because that's sort of in my blood. I have some ideas. I'd like to share them.

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