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City Of Albany Races To Be Decided In Today’s Primaries

Valerie Faust, Mayor Kathy Sheehan
Composite photo by Dave Lucas
Valerie Faust, Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Several key Capital Region races will be decided in today’s primaries.

In the city of Albany, nine of 15 common council seats are open.

The election season comes as local activists have faulted some sitting councilors for tabling a bill this spring that would have banned tear gas and rubber bullets.

Among the nine councilors who tabled the measure are four who aren’t running for another term: Richard Conti, Joe Igoe, Michael O'Brien and Cathy Fahey. The councilors up for re-election are Alfredo Balarin, Ginny Farrell, Jack Flynn, Kelly Kimbrough and Joyce Love.

Ivy Morris, former chair of Albany's Community Police Review Board, is urging residents to head to the polls.  " So what we need to do is figure out a way to get on the ground, all of us to kind of lift the common council members that we support and that support us, and get rid of those who don't."

Third Ward Councilor Love had told councilors before the vote on Local Law C that she experienced teargas firsthand last June 1st, but expressed fear that with an outright ban, police might be led to "open fire" on poor neighborhoods.

Again, Morris:

"The common council needs to be held accountable if they don't get with what we we've tasked them to do. They need to go."

Love is being challenged by Steven Negron and James Davis Jr. Davis was reportedly arrested for two seperate incidents in January. One for threatening to kill a Muslim, and another for chasing a man with a firearm. A call to Albany Police for an update on the charges was not returned.

Farrel, Flynn and Kimbrough face no Democratic primary challengers.

In Ward 6, Jeff Mayo, Susan Pedo and Gabriella Romero are battling for Conti's seat, open for the first time since 1997.  In the 1st Ward, Sonia Frederick was appointed to the seat in 2020, then won a special election to complete the term. She faces Scott Mannarino. In the 2nd Ward, Councilor Derek Johnson is being challenged by Lovett Branch. In Ward 5, Councilor Jahmel Robsinson is pitted against Wilmer Lawson.

Vying for the Ward 7seat are Sergio Adams, Violetta De Rosa and former Albany County legislator Brian Scavo, who has faced his own legal troubles. Ward 9 pits Jolyn Gallagher against Meghan Keegan. In the 11th ward, Councilor Alfredo Balarin is being challenged by Luis Williams and in the 14th Celia Evers goes against Deborah Zamer.

Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan is vying for a third term, facing a challenge from Valerie Faust.

"Campaigning and having a primary during a pandemic is something that is new to all of us. You know, I certainly think that we're probably going to see an impact on voter turnout, you know, not only is an election that's happening as we're coming out of a pandemic, it started when all of the restrictions were still in place. And so, you know, the typical type of buildup that you would see from petitioning through to the primary really didn't happen because we couldn't have you know, events."

The primary winner will face Independent candidate Greg Aidala and Republican Alicia Purdy in November. Sheehan is optimistic about her chances.

"Having this primary is the first time that the mayoral primary has been in June. And so that's another thing that, you know, many people are still learning about, that the primary has changed, it's not in September, it's in June, even though this is the second cycle, we're that the second year that that is the case, but it's all still new. So I think it is going to impact turnout. You know, I never take anything for granted. I'm grateful to everyone who is supporting me and I hope that they all get out and vote."

Polls are open until 9 p.m. Early voting ran until June 20th.

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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