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Embattled Cohoes Mayor Announces Re-Election Bid

Mayor Shawn Morse announces re-election bid at Cohoes Veterans Memorial at West End Park near the Civil War monument.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Mayor Shawn Morse announces re-election bid at Cohoes Veterans Memorial at West End Park near the Civil War monument.

Continuing to defy calls to resign, Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse kicked off his reelection bid Wednesday.

Despite more than a year’s worth of legal troubles and personal issues playing out in the headlines, the first-term Democrat wants to stay in office, and is trying to mend fences.   "2018 was a very tough time for me personally and that of my family. And at times I am sure that my behavior, my attitude and my words could have been used much better. I want to take this moment to apologize, from the bottom of my heart, to anybody that I may have I hurt, including the amazing citizens of Cohoes, New York."

Morse continues to deny allegations of violence and domestic abuse, which prompted government leaders including Governor Andrew Cuomo and many Albany County Democrats to call for his resignation. He now has custody of his daughter as he continues to grapple with family difficulties he attributes to opioid abuse.   "I am very happy to say that my family is now getting the help they need. And my family is in the healing process, which is one of the most important things for me.”

Morse says he's learned how to deal with a lot of the stress associated with those family problems and is "turning a new leaf," hoping the New Year brings a new attitude and new goals. He recited his "accomplishments" since becoming mayor in 2016, including passing a budget with no new taxes or fees, upgrades to streets, sidewalks and the Cohoes Music Hall as well as $75 million in new economic development in the city.   "Over $15 million will be invested in highway infrastructure on 787, making it the most beautiful gateway our city has ever seen, not only will it be beautiful, it will be the safest it’s ever been since its inception. We've invested in new vehicles, fire trucks, signage throughout our city to show 'Cohoes Proud.' We've also invested $2 million in a new water tank, protecting the water supply for all of our citizens in the city."

Morse says he loves the city and has given it everything he has and will announce new goals projects and initiatives in the weeks to come.  The embattled Democrat is the subject of domestic violence allegations by two police agencies and has endured calls from party officials including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Governor Cuomo to step down. The FBI is also looking into Morse’s campaign spending.

But, citizens like Leo Shepherd support Morse wholeheartedly: "I think he's doing a great job for the city. I think the city is in better shape now than it's been in a long time, and I've lived through a lot of mayors. You know Governor Cuomo has his own problems. He ought to stick to running the state and leave the city to the city mayors. I don't know how many times Governor Cuomo's been to Cohoes. Probably not a lot. Shawn's a life-long citizen. He knows the people. He knows this city needs help and he's doing a great job."

Common Councilor Randy Koniowka, a frequent critic of the Morse administration,announced a run for mayor in September.  "We need to restore honor and integrity to the office of the mayor. And I want to be very clear about this: anyone who physically abuses a woman has no business being dog catcher, let alone mayor of the city. Whether you’re Eric Schneiderman, whether you’re Shawn Morse – whoever these other cast of characters are, we’ve seen over the last year, two years – you just have no business being in elective office."

Councilor Steve Napier is also reportedly weighing a campaign. He has not returned calls for comment.

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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