My short bio: I'm Dr. Kevin Bott, associate director of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a consortium of over 100 colleges and universities dedicated to advancing the role of higher education in a democracy. Founder and artistic director of the Syracuse-based community arts project, The D.R.E.A.M. Freedom Revival. Director of A Ritual for Return, a rite-of-passage project created with formerly incarcerated men. Married with kids!

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Comments: 84 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

damonlds20 karma

Being that I am able to actually vote for you... why should I? What makes you a better candidate than Alfonso Davis? Or Pat Hogan (i know democrats ) but since there is no GOP running yet that is who I have to compare you with.

I get that you are pro- art but explain to me how being pro art will resolve the problems of the Cuse. How will that improve our hospitals? Will a strong art base help URMC achieve higher standards of Care.

How will you fix our aging infrastructure? What is your plan for our highway system? Can you fix the problems that exist with the current hudge podge of half finished road construction in the downtown and Carosel Mall areas?

How are you going to bring more jobs into our city? Do you have a plan to revive the waining manufact. sector? How will you work with other local governments to find more jobs? Do you have a plan to work with Cortland or Auburn with their abundance of industrial buildings to bring jobs to the area?

Basically ... what are your plans?

Why should I vote for you? What makes you want we in the Cuse need?

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Sorry for the delay. I am in Staten Island running a course at Wagner College... Just home... Well, to answer this question, I haven't really said anywhere that I'm "pro-art," nor are the arts any part of my platform, which you can find at That said, I do think that the habits of mind that I bring to the table as an artist are different than the status quo officials who have brought us to the brink of financial ruin. You ask a lot of questions that would be more easily answered if you went to my website. It seems that restating my whole platform here -- like the comprehensive jobs plan -- wouldn't serve a lot of people. But here's what I want to question. It seems that you have a vision of governance in which the person "in charge" has plans, implements them, and things are fixed, or not. That's not my understanding of democracy... A lot of decisions have been made by "serious" politicians who have succeeded in getting Syracuse exactly where it is now. In a not very good place. So what do I have that Syracuse needs? How about new ideas? Decades of experience in actual, grassroots democracy. A professional training that is steeped in the practices and theories of democracy... Like Miner, like Hogan, like every human being, I have a limited skill set. But my skills happen to be in visionary leadership and in creating new, inviting spaces for regular citizens to speak about and make decisions about the issues that affect their lives. I have spent my adult life articulating visions of things that don't exist. I have then inspired people to engage in those vision, to wrestle with them, and to reshape them. And ultimately, to manifest them, collectively. What I see happening in government is not leadership; it's management. Who is bringing this city together to even begin to come to a shared vision of where we're headed? We're just speeding along toward the cliff, hoping for a soft landing. The world is filled with managers and administrators, and so are our halls of government. What I hear people desperate for is leadership and vision, and the ability to speak across every difference and with people from every walk of life. Every example of my work speaks to that -- you can find it all on the website. I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I had something new and something needed to bring to the conversation. Thanks for the question!

damonlds1 karma

Artists and Scholars in Public Life Founder and artistic director of the Syracuse-based community arts project

Just pointing out arts are really the only thing you did mention.

I also understand you are taking on a laissez faire type approach here. I can understand and get behind that kind of thinking process.

However, whilst I "get" what you are saying. People are going to want to know you have some kind of plan (even if it is a different kind of thinking).

I look at it this way.

Obama sold the country on change a while back, and has delievered zero substantial change.

I will vote for you if you can assure me you are a man of his word that will not pull an Obama on me. (tell me you are all about change then pull the same act the previous administration pulled)

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Hi again. PLease visit my website. There are five issues that form the foundation of my platform. None of them involve the arts, though I can tell you after running a two-week workshop in Staten Island this week, in a neighborhood where the Black and Mexican communities have had virtually no positive connection, ever, the arts are a proven way to bridge difference, humanize "the other," and begin to bring people together to begin solving their own problems (which includes organizing for political change). I would be happy to connect you with any of the university or community leaders who feel that in one hour last night, the entire community was transformed. People were abuzz today with a a rich new set of visions for their future, and it included people who had never seen each other as allies before our work started two weeks ago. I'll have some video up on the website of this project soon... People who have never experienced this, often scoff, as if theater and other arts are not "serious" enough to have something meaningful to add to democratic life... despite the fact that it was one of the primary means of public debate and deliberation in Ancient Greece... Anyway, the name of the organization I work for, which I mention in the limited-by-word-count bio above has the word "artists" in it, but as I wrote, it is a "consortium of over 100 colleges and universities dedicated to advancing the role of higher education in a democracy." My work is focused on public life, and bringing people from many walks of life and experiences together in innovative spaces of democracy so that they can discuss and act on the issues that affect them. The policies are on the website. It is fairly detailed. My approach will certainly be consistent with my professional and creative life because I can point to more concrete examples of empowering average citizens to participate meaningfully in public life than most politicians I can name, including the other three candidates in the Syracuse race. All I can do is point you to my work, and tell you that I have never aspired to formal political office because I, too, have, at least since my first political disillusionment (Clinton), felt my work was as an activist outside that system... But as I've done this work on the front lines, where people are suffering, I saw that without any kind of partner on the "inside," change was going to be hard to come by... i can do as much as Miner says she will (i.e., continue to ask for the revenue sharing that should be ours; that's common sense). But I believe that change happens when people stand up and speak up for the liberties and rights that are theirs. And I see a public servant's role as one who empowers, and stand with, citizens for liberty and justice, for all... Don't know how else to make my case...

ferlgatr8 karma

So you say that you're an artist. Do you have any sort of leadership experience? What made the green party want to nominate you?

kbott_4mayor5 karma

Hi. Thanks. If you go to my campaign site,, you'll see that I am associate director (i.e., second in command) of a national higher ed network of over 100 colleges and universities. I am invited nationally to consult on higher education issues and to facilitate grassroots theater workshops with people from all walks of life. I've been in leadership positions for most of my adult life, but not in the kinds of positions we're taught to believe makes for a "legitimate" elected official. The Greens of Syracuse knew me from my work as founding artistic director of The D.R.E.A.M Freedom Revival, a Syracuse-based political theater project that brings people together to discuss and formulate action around issues that affect their lives. All on the campaign site. Thanks!

ferlgatr0 karma

You sound extremely qualified! I wish you nothing but the best! A somewhat related question is do you seem "behind" the Democrat and Republican candidates or are you about even in terms of funding, party membership etc.?

kbott_4mayor6 karma

Oh, way behind! I was recruited a month ago. This was not on my radar. I released two videos today ( you can see them from my Facebook page: Kevin Bott for Mayor) that I hope will inspire people from across the country to donate a little bit. My two opponents have $350,000 and $15,000, respectively. I'm running on a bet that there are 35,000 who feel the same urgency I feel -- and all those who I know feel -- willing to give $10 to see if we can change the conversation in American politics!

Reed__Rankin2 karma

What are your views on gun control?

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Well, it was going to get asked sooner or later, and there's no way to answer this, I think, without pissing off one half of the population, and I have a feeling that my answer might actually accomplish something rare -- pissing off BOTH sides... Also, as I've thought about this, I realize it's awfully hard to be nuanced... So here goes... As you can see, my responses are long because I'm not really a soundbite kind of thinker. I think all of these issues are complex, this one more than most... Let me say a few things off the bat. First, one of things I remember from my childhood is that one my Dad's favorite things was to go deer hunting with his Boilermaking buddy. I've seen guns. I've shot a gun. I grew up, not with a "positive" view of guns necessarily, but not negative. Just a part of life. My Dad was always very clear about gun safety and also very responsible with his own guns... Second, I think we live in an extremely violent culture. With guns and without guns, there is a glorification and a celebration of violence and this starts right at the top, our Eastasia/Eurasia, neverending war with whoever the enemy happens to be this week... I also have a dear friend who lost a child at Sandy Hook. Enough said. I've thought a lot about this issue... Third, I'm frightened by what's happening in our government right now. Our government is increasingly militaristic, and the militarism extends to local law enforcement thanks to the war on drugs and the money that municipalities can receive for prosecuting that war... When people are denied their right to bear arms, historically two groups still have them: the government and criminals/gangs. That's frightening to me, because if our country keeps driving headlong into militarism and surveillance (the likes of which have never been seen on the planet, including the Stasi of East Germany), not to mention the ghetto-ization of our communities through structural unemployment and poverty (which I would argue creates more illegal gun ownership and violence), being in a position in which law-abiding citizens DON'T have a way to protect themselves, well, that's not a good position for a citizenry to be in -- examples abound, past and present. At the same time, there are a lot of gun laws on the books, actually (people who are knee-jerk anti-gun don't really know how many gun laws exist), and we need to honor them and prosecute people for breaking those laws. Harshly.... All of that said, I think there are two things that are freaking people out: "accidental shootings" like toddlers getting their hands on a relative's gun; and mass shootings. On the first, we can stop that with the strongest penalties possible. One strike and you're out. If you didn't secure your gun properly and someone dies, you get some very harsh penalty... I don't know what it is -- 25 years? Life? I guarantee you those deaths would be reduced to near zero. On the mass shooting side, the issue, I think, is a life that has become meaningless and alienating for many, many people in this society. I write about this elsewhere, and part of it forms a conversation about prison and criminal justice on my website. Mass shooting of innocent people didn't happen in the Wild, Wild West. If they did, I don't know about it. People have little to live for. They feel hopeless and rudderless and our government has stopped trying to craft a grand narrative about our future that people invited to. So this is a longer digression, but this root cause is what we need to address. If people don't feel dehumanized themselves, people don't dehumanize others, generally speaking. We need to ask ourselves some hard questions about what we've become. Because alienated, dehumanized, angry, hurting people -- with or without access to guns -- will find ways to hurt and even kill others.... This is the first time I've tested these thoughts out publicly so I'd love to hear some responses. I don't think this is the "final word," but it my attempt to start an honest, complex conversation... Thanks.

snowyhedgehog2 karma

What do you believe is the role of religion in government as it relates to social issues such as marriage, abortion, etc?

kbott_4mayor3 karma

I don't think religion should have a role in government. I don't think it's possible to arrive at any kind of consensus, or even really for people to hear one another, when religion is brought to bear on policy. The U.S. is a republic in which each individual's liberty is protected by the Bill of Rights. That is the document to which we should all refer -- even if in reference our goal (and right) is to amend. Bringing religion into the mix is very difficult to do and, potentially, very dangerous to individuals and those holding minority opinions. Hope I've answered your question.

SyracuseBiscuits2 karma


kbott_4mayor0 karma

You can run but you can't hide. You can pretend it doesn't exist where you'll live, but the dumpificaiton of America is underway... Good luck!

Wereder2 karma

Hello sir, I am a Green Party member here in Ohio! We are busy fighting to remain an actual party in this state, and trying to get one of our own, Joe deMare to be elected into city council. But enough about me, I would like to note something. For some reason, most Green Party members that I have spoken with seem to be against NAFTA. But I rather like it, for a variety of reasons. Could you state your position on NAFTA, and explain why you are for or against it please?

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Ooh. NAFTA. Well, I'll be honest and say that I'm not an expert. I understand that it has seemed to increase trade for all three countries. But my further understanding -- and I concede that on this issue, I probably have a progressive bias since I'm sure I would have read most about this in some lefty magazines -- is that US domestic economy has been negatively impacted by things like outsourcing and lower wages, and that Mexico's domestic (rural) industries have been destabilized, causing strife to people there and fueling illegal immigration here... But like I said, I'm no expert. I'd be keen to hear your opinions about it. Thanks.

growon2 karma

Do you think the direction of this country is moving to an Orwellian 1984 society, and if so what is there to be done about it?

kbott_4mayor5 karma

I do think that, actually. And what started me on this path toward being recruited emerged out of a real sense of despair I was having about three years ago. With a young family in a new city, and with 180 inches of snow on the ground, I got deep into some internet rabbit holes that scared the hell out of me... But I am also trained in grassroots organizing and in Freirian pedagogy that tells me that the answer, historically, to oppression, is the collective effort of the masses. We need to organize. One reason I'm running is because, on the side I've been on -- community organizing -- I see that there is no partner in policy-making positions. There is no one in government who knows our communities from the inside, who can convene them to discuss and deliberate and organize. Those are my skills. I think democracy is possible at the municipal level and that if we can gain strength locally and get out of the defensive crouch we've been conditioned toward, we can stand up and speak truth to power at the state and, eventually, at the federal level. (I'm not naive about what backlash actual democracy has faced in this country, but what's the alternative? I'm not prepared to build my bunker yet!)

ferlgatr2 karma

If you had to briefly summerize your political views what are they? What's your main issue you wish to solve if elected?

kbott_4mayor6 karma

I think the overarching crisis we face is a crisis of democracy. I think we have been conditioned to support and elect managers, administrators, and technocrats. The issue I want to solve, first among equals, is the feeling that all voices are not invited to the conversations about the issues that directly affect their lives. I say "first among equals" because we have major, concrete problems to solve here. 53% of our kids live in poverty, and 36% of all our residents. We've got few jobs for regular folks outside of temp agencies and retail. So we need a plan to support our citizens, materially.... But I know from all of my work as an artist, educator, and organizer, that problems get solved when all voices are heard. And when all feel heard and seen, people are motivated to participate more, to care for one another. People are humanized to one another and see the "other's" problem as their own. I feel we have lacked leadership for a long time that has been able to expand our sense of "we." That's my greatest asset. I will have competent managers and administrators in the office crunching numbers and what have you. I'll be in the streets, connecting people, and trying to inspire people toward a more hopeful, participatory future... And I'll bring those folks' concerns with me when I go back to the office to synthesize and make sense of what my team proposes... Hope that's helpful.

DeadSol2 karma

Who are you planning on voting for in the next presidential election?

How do you plan on restoring the freedoms taken from the American public in the past 20 years?

What kind of actions are you planning to take against mainstream misinformation? AKA Are you really going to call people's bullshit, or let it slide, as is the nature of shit?

How do you plan to fight for the quality of life for the underemployed and undereducated? "One does not simply get by on minimum wage"

How do you plan legalize pot, thus reversing hundreds of years of racially inclined as well as monetarily inclined interest groups' bigotry?

How do you plan on steering our energy consumption patterns to a more sustainable horizon? (no natural gas/fracking/drilling bullshit).

Answer these and you can have my 10 dollars... Why should I give you 10 dollars?

kbott_4mayor1 karma

  1. I don't know who is running in the next presidential election. I voted for Stein/Honkala in '12.
  2. I don't know that I'll have much sway over the entirety of the country, but in Syracuse, I will certainly resist any existing or proposed attempts to curtail citizens' constitutional rights, including 4th amendment abuses. Beyond that, I plan on reminding people in every way possible that they are in charge of the democracy and that public servants are just that -- servants of the people. At the end of the day, people need to organize and become empowered to stand up against injustice. As a grassroots activist, I see daily the many good people fighting the good fight, but without any partner in policy-making power. I want to be that partner -- someone coming from the other side to support people who are organizing on the side of cultural and economic equity. #3 - Well, first of all, you don't run with the Green Party if you believe mainstream misinformation. At least I don't I have no political loyalties in Syracuse. I'm not beholden to anyone, including moneyed interests. You have to understand that my work for twenty years has been with people. We all are biased toward our friends. People who "grow up" in halls of power are biased toward those friends. People like me who "grow up" working on the side of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men; children, educators; seniors; junkies; the poor -- well, I have a bias toward them. So, no, I don't think I'll be letting bullshit slide if it's going to hurt people I know and care about. My idea of governance is that we hear all voices and then makes decisions based on the greatest positive impact for the most people. #4 - That's all on my jobs plan page on the website. Too much info here but I hope you'll take a look. In a nutshell, we need to wake up to the 21st century. Corporate manufacturing is gone and it ain't coming back. We're seeing the limits of multinational capitalism. So we need to radically rethink employment and I think it begins with re-localization of our economy and other resources. #5 - My graduate research, focusing partly on incarceration, has made me pretty knowledgeable about the so-called war on drugs -- aka, the war on poor people. This isn't a municipal issue but, as with many things (like the privatization of schools, and fracking, to name a couple), our hierarchy is upside down. We think municipalities are at the mercy of the state, which is at the mercy of the feds. That's backward but because cities have been kicked for so long, now to the point of desperation, we need to rediscover our strength, organize across cities, so that we can speak to the state and federal governments about what WE demand. They should be responding to us. It might also be worthwhile to explore what it would mean simply to defy unjust laws, as Syracuse once did with regard to the Fugitive Slave Act. We need to access our power as people -- the true rulers of a democracy. And just so I'm clear, yes, I support the legalization of pot. #6 - Just like small investors are inspired to invest when they hear a visionary leader on spin his or her vision for the company's future, so I think that there are investors out there who can be attracted to a vision of a new American city. I know there are, actually. I've met them. I think we can attract this investor. Further, we need to open the budget and engage in participatory budgeting process as many cities do, including boroughs in NYC. Let's let democracy rule and decide together , through debate and deliberation, how to move forward. Finally, we need to -- again -- organize and demand as citizens that leaders respond to all of our growing sense of real urgency regarding the future of the planet. We must, must resist the pull toward profits over people and planet. Otherwise, what the hell are we doing? To finish, I don't have "answers." I have ideas and a willingness to hear others' ideas. My talent is in articulating a vision and then bringing others into conversation and debate and coming to a shared sens of where we want to go. We ask the wrong question: "what do you think?" When I look for leadership, I'm asking HOW someone thinks. I think it's much more important. Hope that's helpful. Thanks.

DeadSol1 karma

Thank you for the thorough reply. It would seem that not all politicians are scumbaggery, just the ones you hear about (hehe). Good luck to you sir, I will try to send a 10 spot your way just cause I like what your sayin'.

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Thanks, brother... (or sister, I guess). Anyway, thanks.

caszatt222 karma

Was it hard making a living with art

kbott_4mayor2 karma

yes. I waited a lot of tables. But ultimately I left art because the theater world I existed in, in NYC, felt increasingly meaningless to me. I was auditioning for all this commercial crap when I had already, for many years, been developing a much broader, much more political worldview.... My work now has provided an opportunity to combine my art and my politics. So part of my salary actually goes toward inventing and executing campus-community arts partnerships that advance democracy. Isn't that a crazy job? At 35, I had my first 9-5 job and I was going nuts so I went to my boss and basically said, I need to make art and I think I can do it within the mission of our organization. From that The D.R.E.A.M. Freedom Revival was born and that exposure led to me being recruited to run for office. The ride is often unexpected!

jsssw2 karma

What are your views on smoking bans? Do you think that the government has the right to infringe on the rights of business owners?

kbott_4mayor2 karma

First, I'm not an ideologue. I don't smoke and, as a 40 year old with two little kids, I'm not in bars much these days. And I'll admit that I personally like not leaving a bar smelling like smoke. But all of that is neither here nor there. Since I don't have a personal stake in this, though, I do find it pretty easy to be swayed by both sides of this argument. I guess, without being able to have a good discussion about it, I'd say that since compliance is hovering at around 100% in both bars and restaurants, and there seem to be few complaining after 10 years of bans, and since many employees have taken employment in these establishments when the ban is in effect, there would have to be something creative employed to remove the ban. Would seem legally challenging to introduce a harmful policy INTO a workplace where someone gained employment before that harm was introduced.. It's the employee thing that gets me. I waited tables for 15 years, and in a lot of smoky places. It's not a simple matter to "just leave" and get another job. JObs are hard to come by and it stunk that I had to work in a place where secondhand smoke was a reality, but also preventable without too much inconvenience to anyone.... But I don't know. Please make your argument. I'd like to hear a compelling argument for ending the bans that are in place...

Looking_tovote1 karma

Hey Kevin, could you give us some pointers on how we can help to further your campaign, other than donating? Volunteer opportunities, internships, blackmailing opponents etc?

greennotmachine2 karma

Hi! I'm Reina, and I am working on our Syracuse Greens 3-person Campaign slate, as a manager for our School Board candidate, Barbara Humphrey. If you are local and a student, you can go to and sign up for an internship for potential college credit, if you are able to commit time through the end of November. And we will be happy to take on any volunteers for literature distribution and phone calls as the season moves forward. Sign up on and

Kevin, I am so pumped that you are doing this. Love AMA!

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Yeah, Reina!!! Awesome! Thanks for checking in. See you soon!

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Please visit my site ( and my Facebook page (Kevin Bott for Mayor), and spread the word. I understand democracy as happening through relationships, which are based on trust. If you can make a personal appeal to people you know, telling them specifically why you are interested in me and this campaign and this vision, that's the kind of grassroots organizing that can create momentum and change. Thank you for asking! Kevin.

kbott_4mayor1 karma

I should also say that if you're in Syracuse or CNY, you can visit my website and find the tab that says Help Us Win! There are opportunities to get in touch with my campaign manager... We're going to be doing a city wide walking/listening tour in September, through all the neighborhoods. Would be great to get people out for it!

Ravenseye1 karma

Given that the cuse has become a fairly scared city that is lacking in any forward thinking progress, and given that we constantly tax businesses out of the area, are there plans in your fledgling candidacy to address these issues? I'm on my phone and not able to check your website out at the moment, so forgive me for not checking it out!

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Thanks for the question. Yes, I agree about the city being scared and lacking progressive thinking. The reason I decided to join this race is because I have always felt that creative, visionary leadership is what is so woefully lacking in government. And why would any visionary, creative person in their right mind enter politics?? It seems a thankless job full of cynicism and corruption. Much more money to made, and in more interesting ways, in the private sector... But I happen to be, for some reason, a person who cares about democracy. And my life's work has been about using my talents to open spaces for democracy to flourish, and to bring out the best in people in a way that encourages them to engage in the issues that affect their lives. I am a uniter and I am someone who knows how to envision what doesn't yet exist and move people toward that vision... Now, as for your tax question, you can find a comprehensive jobs plan on the website. But the taxation issue is not limited to Syracuse. Every city is held hostage by business' desire for lower taxes. We need to see that the old paradigm is done. We're not attracting large-scale, living wage jobs (i.e., not retail or temp labor) unless we first localize our economy, by which I mean taking a page from a number of other cities on the rebound that have supported worker-owned cooperative models. The Cleveland Model, Mondragon Corporation (and its new program in Richmond, CA -- also under the guidance of a Green mayor, incidentally) have demonstrated that it is possible to re-use idle factories and create industry in places where it seemed industry would never return... And profits, and tax dollars, stay in the city. In fact, profits stay in the pockets of the workers themselves. It's getting late here but please see the website. Thanks!

Ravenseye1 karma

No, thank you for the response! I'm a tinkerer/hacker and am interested in seeing the area being more friendly towards folks like myself. Being from an arts background, ever hear of hackerspaces?

kbott_4mayor1 karma

No. Do tell...

Ravenseye1 karma

Well, there are places that exist called hackerspaces. They are for folks who have ideas, but can't quite afford either the proper equipment, or have access to space to work. (See teeny apartment syndrome) these hackerspaces allow someone to come in, and either through a membership system, or a one time fee, give folks access to things like laser cutters, vac formers, saws, cnc machines, etc.. the best thing that happens in these places, is meeting other like-minded folks who you may be able to glean more knowledge from! They always require you be trained on the equipment so theoretically, nothing bad should happen... make magazine trumpets this type of philosophy. Downstate, there is a large hackerspace in nyc called check it out, then look at all the empty buildings around here that could be, with some tlc, turned into the micro-factories of tomorrow...

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Yes. That sounds right. We face the same issue in CNY. Lots of structurally sound, abandoned factories that could be used for many things. I'll check out the site. Thanks!

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Are you in Syracuse/CNY?

Ravenseye1 karma

Yes I am. :)

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Please consider working with us on the campaign if you have any time. Would love to hear more about your ideas. We were just riding down by Middle Ages brewery a few weeks ago, looking into the old coffin factory and other factories. Those buildings are solid! We need to incentivize use. Imagine what the city could be if we incentivized the use for 21st century realities. Green industries? Tech? Who knows?

Ravenseye1 karma

Also...what do you think about freeing local government from proprietary software and shifting to solutions that are as good as the commercial software packages out there, but at considerable savings out of pocket? Linux and the plethora of open source software available can be used to replace the need for for-profit software that costs taxpayers loads of money. Money that could be freed up towards better projects than upkeep...

kbott_4mayor1 karma

I think that's really interesting. I had never thought of it. I'm one of those people who loves what Linux is all about, and too lazy, perhaps, ever to have learned it... I wonder what keeps local governments tied to proprietary software? Do we get anything by using those products? I like this idea... What kind of learning curve would be required of the public employees? I'm guessing there would be some, but I can also imagine that in the long run any expenses needed for retraining would be more than saved in purchases and upgrades. Can you write some more about it?

txeggplant1 karma


As someone uncompromised by lobbyists- what is your track record concerning policymaking? Can you give an example of a time when you were able to sway the State to change a policy or make a new law in line with your proposed platform?

How will you contain the brain drain? How will you convince students who have come from wealth, or at least from families who can afford the tuition at SU, to remain in Syracuse at a job paying even a living wage, when the city residents are overburdened by taxes, both state and local?

With something like 52 percent of the city being tax-exempt, how will you address the increasing burden on city services?

How will you fix the aging infrastructure of Syracuse? Roads, sewers, electricity, lack of high-speed internet ... and how do you intend to fund repairs / replacements absent of State funds?

How exactly will you bring jobs to Syracuse? Has this been duplicated elsewhere in the United States?

How would the MHH be funded initially? How do you justify replacing private industry (the for-profit agencies) with a government entity?

Who would fund the rent-to-own program?

How do you intend to fund the increased number of programs needed for the extended number of juvenile criminals? Where will the of millions of dollars needed for these programs come from?

How would you advocate for Syracuse against statewide mandates? What is good for NYC is not necessarily good for Syracuse, and yet we are hamstrung by mandates created by New York City and Albany.

You say you are concerned about an Orwellian society yet policies such as Ban the Box and creating municipal agencies to replace private industry are prime examples of propaganda and Big Brotherism?


kbott_4mayor2 karma

Friend, it is late and I just finished a 14-hour day. Yours are a series of intense questions that I'm going to need to some time to answer. Check back tomorrow if you don't mind. Thanks for the questions, though. They are all good ones.

wittommy1 karma

Do you think you have a serious chance at winning with the outcome dependent on largely traditional-minded voters?

kbott_4mayor5 karma

We're a city in crisis, like many cities. I am trying to lean on that Einstein quote that "The mindset that created the problems cannot solve the problems." I've been pretty successful in my life at expanding the sense of what's possible. I've developed a professional and theater practice that combines my lifelong training at oratory and performance with my passion for freedom and democracy. I'm not scripted, but I am educated and thoughtful and passionate. I am betting that we are so close to the edge -- environmentally, politically, economically, in terms of gap between rich and poor, structural poverty, etc. -- that people might take a chance. We here have nothing to lose. And I will say that the so-called "safe" choice is not doing the same thing -- with the same mind-set -- that got us here. (Plus it seems like the likely loser of the Dem primary here is being tapped to run on the Repub ticket... Could split the Demo vote right in half.) Who knows what's actually possible?

da6id1 karma

I'm a senior from out of state at Syracuse University, so I'm not incredibly informed about ongoing issues in the city, but it seems that a lot of people still aren't satisfied with the state of the city public schools. Would you favor redistricting or making any changes? Maybe a more important question is if you would have the ability to bring about or try to bring about any changes?

kbott_4mayor3 karma

Well, thanks, first of all. Our public school system is under attack nationally. The situation is only more dire here because school taxation policy is such that a poor city like ours is simply not going to have the resources to support the system. But beyond that, you have to understand the complexity of a system in which the federal and state government are "in bed" so to speak with corporate and moneyed interests. Cutting the lifeline to our public schools (through a money-making scheme known as high stakes testing, which creates all the conditions for failure, which then allow for closure or state takeover) allows charter schools to emerge, which is also a money-making project. In all of this, who loses? Children, of course. Parents. Teachers. But most of all, our democracy. Critical thinking is removed as a goal of public education. Without the ability to think critically, we create obedient, docile subjects unable to question or intervene in the world around them. A perfect group up for the world of meaningless consumption and minimum wage work! So yes, we have a huge issue on our hands and I want to explore doing what other cities are now doing which is resist this whole model of high stakes testing and evaluation, and certainly any attempts to privatize services. There would be consequences to those actions of course and I would never do anything so extreme without a long process of community deliberation. But I do believe that the first thing is to have community-wide dialogues about what's happening in education, and then to decide if organizing with the aim of reversing these policies is what we want to do.... As for my ability, my skill is in organizing. And the Greens, unlike the major parties, are not tied to corporate money. What we try to assert as a party is that we are one of the only viable parties who can speak truth to power, and encourage citizens to join us in doing so... Incidentally, I work at SU. While I cannot speak to you about campaign matters on campus, I'd be happy to connect and talk more on Marshall St... Be in touch.

rage-rally-repeat1 karma

Given that Syracuse University is the largest employer in the city and influcences and affects a lot of the residents, how do you see the campus community and the greater Syracuse community's relationship developing over the foreseeable future? Is there anything you would like to change?

kbott_4mayor2 karma

You know, I work for the university and we are about to lose a visionary leader (albeit not without her critics) in Chancellor Nancy Cantor. I didn't grow up in Syracuse but most people say that the city hasn't felt so energized since industry fled in the 70s and 80s... On the other hand, you know, as much as I support what the university has done downtown, we are still operating -- throughout the country -- as if the future is going to look like the past. We can't revitalize a city with the hope that a small downtown effort is going to impact the lives of the many, many poor and jobless people in the city.... We need a much bolder, creative vision for the future. I hope that through my deep ties to many academics and administrators in Syracuse, I can begin to partner on worker-owned industrial models -- like Cleveland, like Mondragon, etc. -- but responsive to our own context. We have a great progressive, intellectual foundation in Syracuse and A LOT of people -- in and outside of academia -- who are doing amazing work. If the civic leaders and the higher ed leaders could actually come together with a comprehensive, visionary plan for the 21st century, we could enroll the 30,000+ students and faculty in the community to support neighborhood-led plans for change. It is possible!

rage-rally-repeat1 karma

Thanks for the response, I agree with your vision completely. Personally, I believe that encouraging entrepreneurship and bringing innovation through entrepreneurship back to the city is what Syracuse needs to fuel growth and prosperity. Syracuse used to have such a rich entrepreneurial history.

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Would love to hear more about your ideas! Please consider joining the campaign team --

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Hi. Much of my work in the city is concerned with relationships between campus and community. I'm a fan of Chancellor Cantor. I haven't agreed with everything but I am a big fan of visionary leadership. You know, there's a lot of work to be done. What I bring to all of this is a leadership history combined with work at the grassroots. I want to see the relationships between campus and community permeate the grassroots, and I want there to be a more comprehensive ethical education for those students and faculty who engage with community partners and community issues. There are plenty of individual faculty and staff -- many my friends and acquaintances -- who have rich, meaningful, equitable partnerships in the community. But I would love to see someone (like me) in civic office who can speak with as much authority and power as the university when it comes to how we work together. I have initiated and been involved with a number of campus-community partnerships in my time in the city, and it is easy for decisions to start getting made by the more powerful party -- usually the party that has the grant money, or whatever resources. It's not intentional, but its very easy for power imbalances to occur in these partnerships, and community partners are left feeling stripped of their power. I hate it. I have always wanted to create a position -- paid for by the universities -- whereby community members to get trained and paid to serve as city advocates for community partnerships. These would be assigned to all partnership projects the universities/colleges want to engage in in the city. This way, there is always a resource and an advocate who is present and can support community partners who feel implicitly or explicitly that their concerns are of less importance.. OK, sorry. I got a little "inside baseball" on that one but this is really the core of my professional life, these very questions, so I have a lot to say. In a nutshell, advocates for the community partners, and deeper engagement into issues that affect the city -- all within a city-led vision of what we want to have the university to with us to improve our lives! Thanks for the question!

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Apologies. This was written at 2am... Sorry for the numerous typos!

shanastonecrest0 karma

I am actually from syracuse and a possible voter for you. What is your position with crime. In the neighborhood where I live I see posts everyday through the community facebook page about break-ins, people egging cars, etc. Often times, it seems that police are not doing much and wont come for a while. How do you plan on working towards making syracuse safer?

kbott_4mayor1 karma

You might know from my website that I have worked for many years with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women, so mine is not going to be a "tough(er) on crime" position. First, because we've been doing that for decades and it hasn't worked. But more importantly because while, yes of course we need to protect all our citizens, being tough on crime doesn't get anywhere close to asking the harder questions about poverty and joblessness and poor educational opportunities and the horrifyingly limited range of options poor (and usually Black) people have in our society. In short: the root causes of crime and violence. There's a pretty simple answer with a tougher solution and that's to give people work to do and quality educations through which their lives are given meaning beyond their immediate, often desperate circumstances... I used to work for an organization called Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) and after I worked in prison for a few months and heard the same -- the almost exact same -- story of poverty and abuse and neglect from all these incarcerated men, it was hard to know what exactly was supposed to be "rehabilitated," the men or the society. We think we have a real, realistic jobs plan for Syracuse. We need to honor the dignity of all of our citizens and when we do that I will 100% guarantee you that the city will be safer by leaps and bounds. People are violent because life has no meaning. We live in a culture in which meaning is achieved through achievement or consumption. You lock a lot of people up in lives marked by concentrated inability to achieve or consume, in a culture that throws success and consumption in your face at every turn, and you are going to have people looking for something else to give their lives meaning. Well, in a perverse way, violence and degradation do that. A feeling of power does that. Killing does that. Destruction does that. And if you don't want to do that, then drugs will at least take you away from what you can't have... So yes, we need a safer city. We need a humane city. We need to hear each other's stories and understand that there are many different kinds of victims living among us and that we have a moral obligation to -- as I said earlier -- honor the dignity of every person... And not to go directly from the sublime to the ridiculous but I would also work hard to reimagine a model of community police work. Police need to be the advocates for the community, and communities need to support cops in doing their work. But from what I understand, there is a whole lot of fear and distrust on both sides. We need to deal with that in a serious way.

shanastonecrest1 karma

Thank you for the time to reply to my concern. I do understand the societial, socioeconomical cause that leads to a lot of violence and crimes in the area. The goals that you are striving towards are long term ones. I do believe that you have to incorporate long term goals with short term solutions. We need more police in the areas that I live. There needs to be more security. The kids in my neighborhood and close to it, just throw stuff, rocks, other things just because. One of my friends was driving early in the morning to go to work and a kid just threw a rock at his car for no reason. The best way to have immediate results and is by having an increased police presence in the area. I get the agenda of using a hollistic approach to crime, but there needs to be both an ongoing and immediate solution to these problems of crime and safety.

kbott_4mayor1 karma

I sat down this afternoon in NYC, with three leaders in criminal justice. People who are working on policy in NYS and DC, and also working on the so-called "front lines." I'll have the video up on my site tomorrow if you want to take a listen. We had a really great discussion about the need for both immediate solutions and long-term goals. And they were talking quite a lot about what they thought was possible in our city. They know it quite well since more prisoners are being released in CNY and Upstate than in the city now -- for the first time in decades... I think you'll be interested.

giegerwasright0 karma

You're involved with academia? Academia is one of the most crooked industries in this country. You're not qualified. You're wasting the time of constituents and are probably not bright enough to see why.

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Your statement is logically twisted and woefully simplistic. Don't public opinion polls show, time and again, that lawyers and politicians to be the most untrusted of professionals? Who, in your opinion, wouldn't be a waste of time? Are both of my opponents, both of whom have been "involved" in government for decades, wasting everyone's time, too? "Involved" in academia? I work for a consortium of colleges and universities that believe that there us a purpose to higher ed. -- a democratic purpose -- beyond charging outrageous tuition to prepare people for jobs that may or may not exist. Many of our members are highly critical of the corporate, profit-making model that has been increasingly on the rise. As in every walk of life, things are complex. People doing good work and others doing their work narrowly and selfishly. To paint such a broad stroke about the 17 million people who are "involved" in academia is reductive, at best, and ignorant at worst.

PracticallyRational-1 karma

If you are elected, would you consent to wearing a camera from the moment you leave your house until you return? It's for your own safety, so that you can't be bribed, threatened, or accused of crimes you didn't commit. How do you plan to protect the people and yourself from the special interest racketeering groups?

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Thanks. Ha ha. I like the idea. Something like that I'm an ethical person and a family man. I have the same skepticism about politics as most people I know. I'm not in this for personal gain. In many ways, this is a sacrifice for me and my family. Would have been much easier to continue along my private career trajectory. But I actually believe we need to step up when called to serve. And I care deeply about freedom and democracy. one advantage the Greens have is that we're not beholden to anyone. No moneyed interests. And for me, to loyalties to anyone currently in power in my city. My own roots and my "people" are in the communities. That's who I feel beholden to. I haven't been plotting my ascent to power for 20 years. I've been working with real people to solve real problems we're all facing. At 40 years old, my moral compass is pretty strong.

PracticallyRational-1 karma

Thank you for the response. I do hope that I can trust the government again sometime in my life.

What are some ideas you have for improving the dialogue between the office you seek and the general public?

kbott_4mayor1 karma

It's what I do. Please see my videos and my work at My skill set is in "the arts of democracy" -- dialogue, deliberation, having rapport with all people regardless of race, education, background, beliefs. I am the furthest thing from an ideologue. My understanding of public service is that a servant has to understand the people's desires and then make the decision that will have the greatest positive impact for the most citizens. Thanks.

veruus-2 karma


kbott_4mayor1 karma

I don't know what that means.

cerealdaemon-4 karma

Cool story, Bro.

kbott_4mayor1 karma


Gufgufguf-4 karma

Artist... No

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Awesome analysis! Thanks!

Ravenseye1 karma

Why would you discount him merely because he is a working creative person? the lawyers and politicians that are running the system seem to be doing us all a disservice, and you'd discount something just because he's something other than them? No wonder we're losing our identity as a culture...

kbott_4mayor1 karma

Thanks, Ravenseye. I couldn't even muster the strength to give a serious response... We've done a great job of brainwashing people into believing that artistry is the equivalent of, i don't know -- narcissism, shallowness, lack of criticality, lack of seriousness, flaky... When in fact, I find artistically inclined people to be just the opposite... And I think we have, as I say again and again in this campaign, perspectives and insights that the country desperately needs in this historical moment. (And besides all that, I do have a PhD and I work for a national higher education consortium. While some of my work involves making issue-based theater in communities, much of what I do is administrative.)

Ravenseye1 karma

No problem Kevin! I dislike the elitist crap that is out there from some folks...we all are made of the same flesh and, we all contribute our own unique "stuff" to our ecosystem :)

kbott_4mayor2 karma

Couldn't agree more. I am 100% about bringing EVERYONE -- and everyone's "stuff" -- into the conversation. It's much more interesting, and there's a whole lot more information to help us move forward. Beyond that, how about we welcome whole, multi-dimensional human beings into public life and stop pretending that people are these narrow, constrained creatures as opposed to the imaginative, inventive, creative, fascinating creatures we all actually are?!?