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Meet The Candidates For Rensselaer Mayor

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Entering Rensselaer - the Albany skyline in the background.

In November, voters in the Hudson riverfront city of Rensselaer will pick between three-term Democratic incumbent Mayor Dan Dwyer and first-time candidate Jim Konstantakis.

Dwyer is seeking a fourth four-year term in the city of about 9,300 just across the Hudson from Albany.  "The city is progressing since I've been in here. Financially we're in good shape, as far as our budget goes. We've got an A+ rating now from Standard & Poor's. No tax increase in the last three years. And we've got costs under control. And we're moving ahead with development down here on the riverfront. We're a business-friendly city too."

Republican challenger Jim Konstantakis  says he has an affinity for the city he grew up in.  "I had been asked in the past to run and I kept saying 'no no no.' I'm really not a politician, never have been and never aspired to be one. But Rensselaer's my home. I've lived here most of my life.

Konstantackis  is concerned about what he perceives as a lack of unity and little interaction between the city, its schools and parks and the Boys & Girls Club.   Dwyer says the city is 100 percent behind the Boys & Girls Club.  s "We took advantage of the fact that there was a grant out there and we applied for a grant for them for $400,000 to redo part of their building and we got it for them. We're helping them out. I don't know where the lack of communication is on this at all."

Konstantackis is calling for change.  Dwyer says "I don't know what he means about change - we need change of direction - we're going up! Why change direction?"

Konstantackis is critical of the local landfill.  "Polluting our air, polluting our streets, polluting our people with the 500 trucks a week that go up and down Partition Street, creating a mess on people's houses. They wipe their houses off with rags and they get diesel fuel, with diesel fumes in the air, I mean the traffic is unbearable, they can't even go out on their porch and have a cup of coffee, because of these trucks, Monday through Friday from 6 in the morning or 6:30 in the morning til 4 in the afternoon, and it's ridiculous. And the school and the water supply is right behind the landfill."

Dwyer says the landfill issue is out of city hands.  "We can't stop it. That was a court case several years ago. It's the oldest active mine in the state. You cannot stop it. The judge says you cannot stop the trucks from going in there and deprive them of the accessibility to the mine. Also the Federal Reclamation Act states that once you dig a mine you gotta refill it, and that's what they're doing."

Dwyer adds the state Department of Environmental Conservation is monitoring the work on a regular basis. 

Konstantackis says Dwyer spends too much time away from the city.  "Mayor Dwyer served in our armed forces. He was in the Air Force, and I respect that. This is not a stab at him personally. I don't know him that well but I did meet him. He seems like a pleasant man, but I just think he got under the thumb of the Common Council and he just does whatever he wants to do and goes along with it. He takes a check. He takes a check from the taxpayers to be the mayor, and he's just not here."

Dwyer appears on the Democratic line on the November 7th election ballot. Konstantakis  has the Republican, Independence, Conservative and Working Families Party lines. Democrats have an edge in city enrollment.  Konstantakis says "This two-party system, I'll be honest with you, it's antiquated. It needs reform. Politics today are filled with a conscious attitude of disrespect. I mean it's lies, deceit, innuendo, name-calling."

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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