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The Race For The Albany Common Council’s 9th Ward Ramps Up

9th ward Albany Common Council candidates Jolyn Gallagher and Meghan Keegan

Five senior Albany Common Councilors are not running for another term this year. Two candidates are headed for the Democratic primary in the 9th Ward.

Councilwoman Judy Doesschate is stepping down after two terms.

Meghan Keegan has been an Albany resident for over 20 years. She bought and renovated a bank-owned vacant home where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs. Keegan says she has been a strong advocate for Albany, and has been involved with city Democratic politics for a "very long time."

"I had actually been asked to stand up and run for office previously, but I had worked for state government in the executive branch and was not eligible to run as a result. And I was able to secure new employment this year, which opened up some opportunities for me. This is an open seat. And I think it's really important that we have good representation in government. And I believe that my professional background and the work that I have done in organizations throughout the Albany community as well as nationally, really lend to me being well qualified to take Judy's place.”

Also vying to take that place: lifelong Albany resident Jolyn Gallagher.

"I have never, ever in my wildest dreams, thought of a political life. I'm going to be honest. But in that same thread, I've always been a devout public servant. From day one, I have given up my time, my effort, my children's time, their efforts, from running the PTA New Scotland to running the PTA at Hackett, to work in the board of National Little League, to coaching, baseball coaching, Peewee Soccer over at Mater Christi. By, volunteering, whether it's at the South End Children's Cafe, the cleanup after the riots that happened downtown Albany, bringing my children with me to do that. I've always felt an innate need to become involved be part of a solution."

Gallagher says her passion for schools and maintaining safe, equitable neighborhoods helped spark her run for the 9th ward seat.

Keegan says she's running for the council because she believes in good government.

"I have lived here for over 20 years. And in 2011, I purchased a vacant bank owned property here in the 9th Ward, which I've been restoring over the last decade. I have a record of commitment to the Albany community working to develop Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Programs, working to pass our school budgets, helping our schools leave state receivership, assisting local organizations and developing startup funds to combat food security issues. And supporting organizations that are developing the next generation of community leaders through a diverse lens.”

Keegan says she's not afraid to be truthful and honest, and will work to stabilize the tax base to encourage home ownership, and will make financial decisions "through an equity lens." She thinks the most important issues for the 9th Ward include rain and floodwater mitigation along with traffic flow improvements along New Scotland Avenue in the vicinity of St. Peter's Hospital.

Gallagher counts senior citizens and infrastructure among her concerns, and agrees that traffic is a problem.

"The walkability within ward nine is relatively good. However, there's a huge concern right here at South Main and New Scotland. We've had several accidents where people are just flying through. They've crashed in the median, it's not safe. We have children walking constantly. And that segues down to New Scotland Ave. Elementary School, where at normal times at dismissal. It can be chaos.”

Doesschate is not endorsing either candidate, telling WAMC she will make herself available as a resource to whoever wins, and adds she does not expect to run for elected office again.

The 9th Ward includes parts of the Helderberg, New Scotland-Woodlawn, Pine Hills and Park South neighborhoods.

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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