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Albany Mayoral Candidates Set For Another Forum Tonight


Once again, the three Democratic candidates for Albany mayor will get together for a pre-primary debate tonight. This time they will be joined by Green Party candidates.

At the Grand Street Community Arts Center,The Albany League of Women Voters will give voters a chance to hear from Democrats Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin and Common Council member Frank Commisso Jr. alongside Green Party hopefuls Dan Plaat and Bryan Jimenez.

Lest "debate fatigue" set in, be warned there are at least three  more before the September 12 primary.

"It's a little bit of overkill." council President Carolyn McLaughlin there: some of her remarks at the most recent debate at the Hearst Media Center have irked the first-term mayor, most notably:   "...on a daily basis I speak with people, individuals who have applied for multiple jobs and cannot get a job with the city of Albany. Now if you have a city that is approaching over 50 percent black, brown, and beige people and they represent maybe 12 percent of the workforce in the city of Albany, therein lies a big problem, right there."

Sheehan's response:  "Yeah there was a statement made that in the last debate that only 12 percent of our workforce is people of color, and it's actually way more than double that, it's 28 percent of our workforce are people of color. That's still not good enough. This is a city that embraces its diversity, and since I became mayor, 44 percent of our hires since 2014 have been people of color. So we're actually hiring at a rate that's slightly above what the population is."

Sheehan found a few other factual flaws:   "Everything from I wanted to sell the Palace Theatre for a dollar, which was incorrect, to that we are giving away bids to big companies with approach to our economic development."

Frank Commisso weighs in:  “She has a dual role where she sits on the Board of Directors for the Palace Theater and is also the chief executive officer for the city, and may have questioned who she was really negotiating on behalf of. And there are folks throughout Albany that want Albany to abandon the Sheehan model of corpoorate welfare.”

Tonight marks the first time Green Party candidates Dan Plaat and Bryan Jiminez will be on the dais. Plaat is ready:   "My goal for these forums is to relay the kind of vision that me and Bryan represent. A vision that's future-focused, that's ecological and that puts social good in front of private profits."

Conservative candidate Joe Sullivan won't be at tonight's debate. He says he received a letter of invitation but was later told only primarying candidates would be allowed to participate. He offers words of encouragement to the debaters:  "I think that they should be actually engaging one another in actual debate, rather than just simply stating positions in a very nebulous way."

Sheehan's willing to give it a go...  "I'm happy to spar. I think that I have a very strong record. I am very factual in the responses that I give. I don't just say things for the purpose of saying them."

Primary day is September 12th. 

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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