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Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan Kicks Off Re-Election Bid

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is running for a second term.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall in Albany was the backdrop Saturday as state and local leaders joined the first-term Democrat in a well-executed production leading up to her finally revealing her intentions.  First ward Common Council member Dorcey Applyrs served as emcee during the upbeat presentation.  "She is a leader who doesn't seek accolades for doing the right thing. She is caring and thoughtful. She is a great mayor, but most importantly, a great person."

Sheehan's announcement came days after Albany was awarded $12.5 million in state aid to plug a budget shortfall; this time the money is NOT a spin-up against future funds.  One by one, fellow Democrats like Common Council President hopeful Corey Ellis, County Executive Dan McCoy, and Congressman Paul Tonko took turns on stage praising the mayor for bringing that $12.5 million home.

Ellis "Getting that $12.5 million in aid is unprecedented!"

McCoy "And I have to tell ya, I'm impressed too, the fact that she got $12.5 million out of state government."

Tonko "The $12.5 million is now coming forward to the Capital City. That's academic leadership!"

Current Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, who Sheehan will face in the September Democratic primary, was not fazed by the move:    “It was no surprise to us that she announced that she was going to run. I assumed that she was waiting until she heard on the budget.”

Sheehan insisted timing of her announcement was not tied to the cash.   "We had this planned and scheduled, so whether or not the budget had passed, we were gonna move forward and make this announcement."

U.S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a cameo appearance in a video pitch backing Sheehan's re-election bid.  "When it comes to standing up to Donald Trump and fighting his proposed cuts, I need partners like Mayor Kathy Sheehan. Cities like Albany will bear the brunt of Trump's devastating cuts. Cuts to affordable housing, seniors, mentoring and after-school programs, protections for the LGBT community and job training. For the past three years Mayor Sheehan and I have worked side-by-side because of our shared belief that public service can improve lives in communities like yours."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
"The overwhelming majority of the people who live in the city are concerned about whether or not they will have a voice in Washington.... I want to assure them that will absolutely have a voice in me." ~ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Taking the stage, Sheehan discussed Albany's diversity.    "We are a city where 1 in 4 of our residents lives below the poverty level, and many struggle just above that poverty level, sometimes day to day, not knowing how they're gonna keep the lights on. 31 percent of us are African-American. 9 percent are Latino. We have a growing Asian population. 9 percent of our residents under the age of 65 are disabled. Nearly 12 percent of our residents were not born in the United States. And in nearly 16 percent of our households, a language other than English is spoken at home." 

The mayor added "more than half of us are women." She acknowledged the LGBT community and referenced the number of religious faiths represented throughout the city.

Sheehan walked the gathering through what she said are some of the many highlights of her first term, including Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion as part of the community police initiative; restructuring the city budget; lobbying for additional state aid; developing an equity agenda;  engaging marginalized communities; transforming neighborhoods like Sheridan Hollow and Park South. And Sheehan noted there's much more work to be done.    "The overwhelming majority of the people who live in the city are concerned about whether or not they will have a voice in Washington. They are concerned that they will face increased discrimination, the loss of health care, the dismantling of a safety net. I want to assure them that will absolutely have a voice in me."

Sheehan clarified once more that Albany is a "Sanctuary City."

To win a second term, Sheehan will need to get through the pivotal primary against McLaughlin and  15th ward council member Frank Commisso Jr., and, as in the 2014 election, could face at least two opponents representing other political parties come November.

The mayor has named former Assemblymember Jack McEneny and City School District of Albany Board Member Vickie Smith as her re-election campaign co-chairs. Additionally, Sheehan tapped Steve Napier as campaign manager.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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