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Albany County Legislature Makeup Takes Shape After Tuesday’s Democratic Primary

Albany County Legislature

The makeup of the Albany County Legislature is taking shape after Tuesday’s primaries.

In District 3’s Democratic primary, Wanda Willingham fended off a challenge from Jaimz Edwards. There was an upset in District 7, where Beroro Efekoro pulled about 54 percent of the vote, beating Doug Bullock, who has served since 2008.

One of the closest-watched battles was for District 1, where legislator Lucille McKnight ran against three hopefuls: former Albany Common Council President and mayoral candidate Carolyn McLaughlin and Carmen Rau and Ira Bethea. Although McKnight told WAMC she wasn't worried on the eve of the race, McLaughlin captured about 38 percent of the vote and suggested she might have had more support had turnout been higher.   "I really expected there would be more people because so many people were running in these judge races. But you know there was an increase from the last primary. I guess we have to be happy with that. But yeah, I was, I knew I had done the work. I counted my 'yesses and my 'nos' so we had some expectation that we could win."

Legislature Chairman Andrew Joyce says McLaughlin is a "fiercely intelligent hardworking experienced individual."    "You know I had the feeling early on that she would work very hard, and do what was necessary to win. I'm really excited to get the opportunity to serve alongside her and learn from her, given her decades of public service."

McLaughlin says she has targeted certain issues and has been preparing an agenda.   "I'm excited to think about what lies ahead in the future and the work that we can do to move the 1st district of the Albany County Legislature forward. There's a lot of issues that need to be addressed and I'm looking forward to doing the work as it relates to providing services for senior residents, re-entry programs, making sure that they're efficiently run for those people that are coming back to the community after being away. Looking at all the youth in our community, seeing what we can do from that vantage point. There's so many issues.”

In District 8 voters thwarted a comeback attempt by former legislator Brian Scavo, re-electing Lynne Lekakis.    "I have accomplished quite a few things during my first stint and I'm eager to continue some of the projects that I've started in a second term," Lekakis said.

Joyce added  "And yeah, Lynne Lekakis is also one of our most thoughtful, hardworking, just really incredible members. She's someone that always wants to kind of get above the fray and do good work and not relent until that work is down, so I'm really glad Lynne is coming back."

The sitting legislator in the 36th district, Republican Richard Mendick, is not seeking re-election. Democrats Marc Gronich and Matthew Miller faced off, as did Republicans Dave Harrington and Colin Dwyer. Harrington got about 55 percent of the vote, and will face Miller in November. Miller picked up nearly 78 percent of the vote.    "I was very pleased with the outcome last night. A pretty solid picture for both the Democratic and Independence lines. It gives me a lot of momentum going into November. I'm very much interested in the environmental issues, in particular sewer overflows into the Hudson, getting the county to work with the town in order to improve their sewer facilities. They can't do it alone financially, so they're going to need some help from the county."

Joyce says he's thankful the races were clean and issue-driven.    "Now that they have won their individual campaigns, the easy part is over. That was the easy part. The hard part is the work that we do in the legislature to pass good policies and legislation and reach consensus. You have 29 Democrats and 10 Republicans. You have to get a certain number to agree with you to get your job done. Folks are gonna realize that they have their work cut out for them."

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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