Central Current editor-in-chief Julie McMahon appeared on a special episode of WCNY’s Connect as part of a roundtable discussion reacting to Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s 2022 State of the City speech. The live program immediately followed the mayor’s address.

Hosted by WCNY’s David Lombardo, McMahon was the only journalist on the panel that also featured State Sen. Rachel May, Gifford Foundation executive director Sheena Soloman and former Republican mayoral candidate Janet Burman.

McMahon described the mayor’s State of the City speech as “like a big ribbon cutting for economic development in Syracuse.”

“This an update to Syracuse Surge,” McMahon said. “This is the mayor’s 2nd term in office and we’re really seeing … the seeds that he planted in 2018, 2019 for the Syracuse Surge – that tree is bearing fruit for the first time.”

McMahon said residents are starting to see from Walsh and other public officials “more concrete plans” for initiatives like the Syracuse Surge, Blueprint 15 and the path forward for the takedown of Interstate 81.

Mayor Walsh delivered the speech at JMA Wireless on Syracuse’s Southside. The company is preparing to open its 5G wireless manufacturing facility as part of the “Southside Campus for the New Economy,” a tenet of the Syracuse Surge.

McMahon, who has worked as a journalist in Syracuse throughout the mayor’s first term, offered analysis of the speech, the city’s finances, and Walsh’s tenure as mayor.

She encouraged the administration to continue to be transparent as it spends federal stimulus money and sets out goals for the next four years, including how it will overcome challenges like gentrification and the long-term financial health of the city.

These topics will be part of Central Current’s editorial strategy and coverage areas going forward under McMahon’s leadership.

“I do think it’s too early to say whether this is a true success for the community in the way that it set out and promised to be because it was so aspirational, (and) because the Syracuse Surge placed such an emphasis on exclusivity and promised to uplift all communities,” McMahon said.

“The transparency is really key here.”

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.

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Julie McMahon is editor-in-chief of Central Current. She's lived and worked in Syracuse as a reporter, editor and professor of journalism for more than a decade. Contact Julie at jmcmahon@centralcurrent.org.