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Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan Cruises In Three-Way Democratic Primary

Voters in the city of Albany have made their choices in the pivotal primary election.

"It is a great day for Albany, it is a great day because we've re-elected  Mayor Kathy Sheehan. All right. Not only that, we're gonna have a new Council President, Corey Ellis."  City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar acted as master of ceremonies primary night at the incumbent’s watch party.

With the primary victory in the heavily Democratic city, Sheehan, who garnered 51 percent of the vote, all but secured a second term.   "When we come together as a city after this Democratic primary, it's really important that we remember we have to ensure that we are here for our residents. That we continue the hard work that is needed. We've got an uphill battle, given the climate in Washington. And so, after a campaign that I'm really proud of, because I believe we put on a strong, positive campaign. It was about a record of accomplishments."

Common Councilor Frank Commisso Jr. received 32 percent and outgoing Council President Carolyn McLaughlin 15 percent according to unofficial results. Commisso, who has the Independence Party line on November’s ballot, tells WAMC he'll be getting together with family, friends and supporters over the next few days before deciding his next move.

McLaughlin thanked supporters at her campaign headquarters on South Pearl Street, as captured by NewsChannel 13.   "And I will encourage each one of you to find your spot and continue to do that, because this place needs help."

Credit Albany County BOE
Click on image to enlarge.

The primary results validate two Siena College Polls that showed Sheehan going into the primary with a significant lead over her two opponents. The accuracy of the polls’ findings had been questioned by McLaughlin in the last days of her campaign.

McLaughlin tells WAMC that she plans to rest awhile before deciding whether she'll make another move politically.

Meantime, Sheehan says her vision for the city will go forward, unified under Democratic values.    "I stand for the values of inclusiveness. I stand with our immigrant community. I stand with our African-American community. Our Latino community. Muslims. Jews. All ethnicities. The LGBT community. And so we have to come together now, as Democrats and forge ahead."

Ellis won a three-way Democratic primary for Common Council president. The citywide victory is a bit of vindication for Ellis, a former two-time mayoral candidate.   "It is about the people for me. It's very humbling. A gentleman yesterday said, 'Mr. Ellis I'm gonna vote for ya. Don't let me down.' And I'm not gonna let Albany down."

Ellis pulled in 51 percent to Chris Higgins' 33 percent and Mark Robinson's 13 percent. Robinson still has a shot: he's on the conservative Party line in November.

Primaries for common council seats swept incumbents Leah Golby, Ron Bailey and Judd Krasher off the Democratic line.

In the Green Party mayoral primary, Dan Plaat squeaked by Bryan Jiminez by two votes — 17-15.  "Because we put party before personalities, me and Bryan will be working together, going forward in the next two months, to make sure that our campaign is as successful as possible."

Come November, Plaat will face off against Sheehan, along with Conservative Party hopeful Joe Sullivan and Margaret Trowe, a member of the Socialist Workers Party.

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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