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Albany Politics Heating Up: First Mayoral Debate Tonight

Ahead of the pivotal September 12 primary, three leading Democrats aspiring to get the party nod in the race for mayor of Albany are debating for the first time tonight.

Wednesday, Citizen Action of New York announced a round of endorsements, starting off with first-term incumbent Democrat Mayor Kathy Sheehan.  "I have stood with Citizen Action when they have organized around the $15 an hour minimum wage, around making sure that we stand up against bigotry and hate, and all of the issues that really impact working families. Issues about how we treat our immigrants and ensure that we are a community that is welcoming to immigrants and issues that impact our environment, that impact social justice..."

Corey Ellis was endorsed for Common Council President.    "I know, these election officials who stand with me today and stand with Citizens Action as members, will be out there, pushing a progressive issue, pushing those issues that working families care about, and making our city and our state one."

Citizen Action is backing Leah Golby for reelection as 10th ward Common Councilor. Alfredo Balarin got the nod over two challengers for the 11th ward council seat held by Judd Krasher, who says there are other endorsements factoring in as momentum builds for various city office campaigns.   "Albany County Central Federation of Labor endorsed me, that was a huge honor. They decided to stay neutral, actually, in the mayor's race, they recommend, the executive committee of that board recommended the mayor for endorsement and the rank and file workers actually overturned that recommendation from the executive board, that's neutrality from them. The firefighters, proud to receive their endorsement personally, they are also staying neutral, that was a decision that they came to, and most recently, the blue collar workers, while I enjoy phenomenal support from the rank and file workers, the blue collar workers,  they just recently waded into the mayor's race and endorsed Frank Commisso for mayor."

Mayoral candidate and current Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin has no endorsements. She says her two decades of political experience more than qualifies her for the job.   "I've gone through every interview process. Some of these processes, the decision was made before I even walked in the door, and I know that. I am not deterred by it. As a matter of fact, what it does it just undergirds me and lets me know that I gotta go forward, and let the people who are going to do the voting in the city of Albany, to let them know that it's not about an endorsement, but it's about that individual person who's gonna come and vote, based on what they know about me and what they hear me say, and I still maintain that we will be victorious on September 12th."

Fellow candidate Commisso doesn't place much stock in a Siena Research Institute poll that came out Monday, Sheehan with support from 50 percent of likely Democratic voters.  "Polls can have errors and can be wrong, and for us, we look forward to Election Day... we will go out and continue to identify voters who want to see a change here in the city of Albany."

The Siena survey showed Commisso with support from 20 percent, and McLaughlin some distance behind at 13 percent.

More endorsements of various candidates from various groups are expected in the days and weeks leading up to the primary.

All three mayoral candidates say they are looking forward to Thursday night’s opportunity to debate and discuss issues facing the city. The debate will be broadcast live on WAMC and WNYT-TV and here at wamc.org. It will be rebroadcast Friday at 1 p.m.

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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