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Democratic Mayoral Primary: Cohoes Chooses Keeler

Bill Keeler congratulated by Steve Napier at Keeler Campaign Headquarters in Cohoes.
Bill Keeler congratulated by Steve Napier Tuesday night at Keeler Campaign Headquarters in Cohoes.

Retired New York State Police Troop Commander Major Bill Keeler has taken a major step toward becoming the next mayor of Cohoes.

Based on unofficial results, Retired New York State Police Troop Commander Major Bill Keeler won a plurality of votes in the four-way Democratic primary Tuesday. It was his first foray into politics; incumbent Mayor Shawn Morse finished second.  "I felt a calling to get into this race because of the hit on Cohoes' reputation. I love Cohoes. I'm a lifelong Cohosier. I also started my police career here on Cohoes P.D. And I was bothered that, as were many Cohosiers, that this mayor has injected politics into the police department, so those were two big drivers that got me into this election."

Keeler was leading Morse, 972 votes to 869.   "I said from the beginning of this race that this would be the most consequential election in Cohoes since the 1960s. I'm proud and I'm grateful that the voters sent a  clear message about who we are as a city. Since I announced in January, my message has been consistent. I'm in this to restore honor and integrity and professionalism to city hall."

When Common Councilor Steve Napier saw he had finished third, he spoke at his watch party:   "I look forward to having a conversation with Mr. Keeler about the future of the city and we'll have a discussion about what's gonna happen over the course of the coming few months. My name will appear on the Independence and Working Families lines and so we'll have a decision to make."

Before the night was over, Napier showed up at the Keeler camp to personally congratulate him.   "The city is ready for change and tonight they got it. I was hoping that they would pick me for their change but they picked Mr. Keeler and we're gonna have a new mayor in city hall on January 1st and that's what counts."

Former city treasurer Peter Frangie finished fourth.   "We're happy for the city of Cohoes. We're thrilled for Mr. Keeler and the opportunity he has to bring our city to the next level. We look forward to helping him in that endeavor."

Randy Koniowka, who represents Cohoes' sixth ward on the Common Council, flirted with a mayoral run of his own after a raft of stories alleging domestic abuse against Morse. Tuesday, Koniowka said Keeler's apparent victory was "just unbelievable."    "The people of Cohoes spoke with their hearts, the spoke with their consciences, and they voted in one of the best men I've ever known and one of the best mayors Cohoes will ever see."

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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