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An Update On Albany City Politics

Across the city of Albany, the political scene is heating up as the pivotal September Democratic primary approaches.

There are all sorts of changes in the wind, as party factions line up for battle. Challenges abound in the Common Council races.  Second ward Common Council member Vivian Kornegay has decided against seeking re-election and is backing Mark Johnson as her successor. He will face Derek Johnson (no relation) in September.

The longtime representative of Albany's 13th ward has also opted not to seek another term. Albany city judge Joshua Farrell's wife Ginnie is running for Dan Herring's seat on the council. She will vie for the party nod in September against business owner Joanne Genovese.

Going up the line, mayoral candidate and Common Councilor Frank Commisso Jr. is taking a cue from national politics in releasing his federal and state tax returns for 2016, along with the relevant attachments. His public relations effort categorizes Commisso as "the first Albany Mayoral candidate in history to release his returns."   Commisso says financial disclosure is necessary for voters to properly evaluate candidates.    "I think voters have an expectation that a candidate will show freedom from conflict. We think our tax returns demonstrate that. They show that I have many of the same interests and same concerns as many voters in Albany."

Mayoral candidate and Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin is not impressed — and says she has no plans to release her tax returns.    "I've been a public servant for 30 years. And there's nothing to see here."

Sitting Mayor Kathy Sheehan declined to comment on the matter. As the party seemingly splinters, McLaughlin and Commisso number among the rank and file who have some bigger fish to fry concerning the Albany County Democratic Committee meeting Monday night to endorse candidates for public office.

Commisso: "I did not interview with the Albany County Democratic Committee because the process has changed."

McLaughlin "Normally, ward leaders who represent each ward through the committee process, do the interviewing of candidates. That did not take place this year."

Commisso: "Last year that was changed by Dan McCoy and Jack Flynn and Kathy Sheehan to be a handpicked committee, that, given the composition of that committee, was to arrive at a pre-determined outcome which was to endorse the incumbents."

Sheehan defended the process:   "There's a committee and there are interviews and the direction that the city is going in is a very positive direction and I am hopeful that I will have support to get this party's endorsement as the sitting mayor running for re-election."

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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