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Albany Political Races Shaping Up Ahead Of November

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As top Albany Democrats get ready for campaign season, some familiar faces are jumping into citywide races as well.

Incumbent Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin and Common Councilor Frank Commisso Jr.: three powerful Democrats with unique factions of followers and politically-connected supporters, will have some company in the mayor’s race heading toward November. In a bid to become the city's first African American mayor, community activist Marlon Anderson threw his hat in the ring Wednesday night, formally announcing at Albany Public Library's main branch.   "Where have the other candidates been when it comes to issues of concern?  You have seen me at every meeting imaginable in the city on every issue imaginable in the city."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Marlon Anderson makes the case for his candidacy for Mayor of Albany at the Albany Public Library Main Branch, April 19, 2017.

Anderson says he has an economic plan for the city. He's looking to establish rent control and make housing and home ownership affordable again.  The Democrat pointed to areas of the city he feels have been neglected, talking about commercial development in Arbor Hill and the need to replace its half-century old community center. Anderson says a lack of recreation and places where young people can safely congregate could mean a long, violent summer.    "…every kid in is just one bad day away from becoming another Marquis Dixon," a reference to the young man sentenced to serve nine years in adult prison for stealing a pair of sneakers.

Anderson affirmed this, his third run for Albany's highest office, will be his last. Joe Sullivan says this is likely his last run as well, Sullivan announcing Wednesday morning that he's running as a Conservative. Sullivan opposes Albany re-zoning, is against the municipality identifying itself as a sanctuary city and he believes the budget needs a complete overhaul that would cut the annual dependency on securing state funding.   "I think Mayor Sheehan made a tremendous blunder by as soon as the news came out that the city was going to get the $12.5 million, she arrogantly demanded the same amount next year. Doesn't show much gratitude, does it?"

Sullivan and Anderson are both keen on debating the issues: Anderson challenges his fellow Democrats to hold at least one debate well before the September primary.

Meantime, Alfredo Balarin has announced his candidacy for Albany Common Council in the always politically volatile 11th ward:   "I think I've got longevity in the ward. I've lived in the ward for over 15 years. I own my home in the ward, it's my family's home. People have seen me being engaged with neighborhood organizations throughout the years, so it's not as if I'm 'passing through,' looking for an opportunity.”
Balarin is interested in making temporary residents of his ward into permanent neighbors by encouraging home ownership. He is the fourth candidate in the race for the seat held by Judd Krasher — who welcomes all contenders.    "I'm actually looking forward to this summer of knocking on doors and campaigning. And I think that the amount of people in the race, it goes to a long history actually, the 11th ward of being, for some reason there's something unique about the 11th ward that just attracts a lot of attention and a diverse array of opponents, whether or not there's a sitting incumbent. Actually if you go back in history, the 11th ward was occupied by Mayor Jennings at one point. So it's a very interesting ward. It's always been politically interesting, and the tradition continues. Clearly, I think there's going to be surrogates for different mayoral campaigns, I think that's pretty obvious. But the bottom line is that the people in the 11th ward are going to have very clear choices."

Also running for that seat:  Beroro Efekoro  and activist Clifton Dixon.  In the 10th ward Common Councilor Leah Golby faces a rematch against Owusu Anane.  In the 9th ward, Judy Doesscahte is being challenged by independent Al Thoma. Joyce Love is looking to unseat Councilman Ron Bailey in the 3rd Ward.

Credit Lesley Adewunmi
Councilor Dorcey Applyrs represents Albany's 1st ward.

More candidates are expected to announce before summer.  Andres Rivera, who lost to Dorcey Applyrs in the 1st ward in 2015, backed out of a re-match to entertain thoughts of other possible runs, including a shot at the Common Council presidency. Applyrs kicks off her re-election campaign next weekend.

Citing health issues, Democrat Tim Carney has dropped out of the race for president of the Common Council. Former two-time mayoral candidate Corey Ellis is seeking that office.

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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