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Sheehan First Into 2021 Race As She Seeks A Third Term

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
Dave Lucas
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan is running for re-election, saying the challenges of 2020 have led her to seek a third term.

The city's first female mayor made it official in campaign kickoff video released Monday night.

"As challenging as these times are, I'm optimistic for our future. We've come together in ways that would have been almost unimaginable seven years ago. And I want to continue that work. I'm asking for your support and your vote in 2021."

The Democrat took office as Albany's 75th mayor in 2014. During a 2017 debate, the former city treasurer said she supports term limits and thinks two terms is the right amount, but she did not commit to that limit outright:

""Two terms is to me, is what they have in Syracuse. Two terms is what we have for our president, and I think that this is something that I supported when I ran the last time and I continue to support it."

Now, Sheehan says 2020 is “a year like none other,” adding she loves the city and feels her experience as mayor can help Albany successfully emerge from the pandemic.

"We were in good fiscal shape before the pandemic. We had done all of the things that we needed to do to tighten our belts, to balance our budget. We paid off the landfill in 2020, and so I do believe that we will move through this and we will come through this and we will find a way. And I believe that it's important to have experience in leadership in place to be able to do that."

Sheehan says COVID-19 has affected gun violence, schools and court systems. 2020 has been one of the worst for gun violence in the city on record.

"If we wanna point the finger and blame someone, that might make us feel good, but that's not gonna fix the problem. Certainly not gonna fix the problem. And so, we will be reckoning with the impact of this pandemic for years to come."

Sheehan's campaign video includes endorsements from a host of Democrats in state government as well as from city officials once considered possible 2021 primary challengers, including Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs and Common Council President Corey Ellis.

Ellis, Sheehan’s 2013 primary opponent, may soon face a challenge of his own from local business owner Peter Hitchcock.

"You know Kathy's doing a wonderful job, she's out there, people know that she's actually trying and she has a heart, but Corey Ellis is just silent. He collects a paycheck and he's not out there, I don't see him. I go around to a lot of restaurants, a lot of stores, I ask people 'do you know who the president of the common council is?' and 8 out of 10 people say 'no.' It's frustrating with the city in such a decline with the crime and shootings, stuff like that, that we need people of the common council, the council people need to be in their communities to get people involved."

Hitchcock expects to make a decision in the near future. There will be at least five seats open on the common council as its five longest-tenured members all have declined to seek re-election. Ellis did not immediately respond to a request 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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