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Amsterdam Republican Mike Villa Defeats Democratic Mayor Ann Thane

Lucas Willard

After eight years, the city of Amsterdam will have a new mayor. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, Republican challenger Mike Villa ousted incumbent Democratic mayor Ann Thane on election night.

With about two-thirds of the vote, Republican Mike Villa was elected to a four-year term.

A retired policeman and welfare fraud investigator, the son of former Amsterdam mayor Mario Villa said he’s pleased the voters agreed with his message.

“I think they spoke loud and clear last night that not only did they agree but that they agreed wholeheartedly.”

On the campaign trail, Villa often spoke out against blight in the Montgomery County city that is home to about 18,000 people.

Once a manufacturing hub of the Mohawk Valley, the city is grappling with high poverty. According to the U.S. census bureau, approximately 23 percent of city residents lived below the poverty line between 2009 and 2013.

Villa said it will take a united effort to tackle blight and revitalize neighborhoods.

“It’s going to take a team effort of not only city officials but state and federal and partnering with our neighbors and doing what we can of our own DPW crew and that of Montgomery County, and just put together as many resources to address it as possible. But it has to be addressed.”

Campaign signs dominated sidewalks and curbs in Amsterdam over the past few months. Villa said he believes voters clicked with his ideas during a two-hour debate on October 22nd.

Villa said his transition process begins right away. He said he spoke with the outgoing mayor after the numbers were in Tuesday night.

“She called me somewhere around 10:30 and we had a nice conversation and I look forward to a smooth transition. We both have the city’s interests in heart, we just have different visions on how to accomplish it. So I think the transition will be a smooth one and we’ll get done what needs to be done so that on January 1 we have all the tools in place to guide Amsterdam.”

Thane did return a message Wednesday, but addressed her supporters via Facebook after her defeat, asking city residents to “please help this new mayor succeed.”

During her term, Thane focused much of her efforts in marketing the city for tourism and improving the waterfront.

In an interview with WAMC in September, Thane said she believed Amsterdam was headed in the right direction.

“We’re beginning to see the positive effects of our efforts. So we just want to make this all pedestrian friendly, and we’re easily accessed off of the Thruway, off of the river, off of the train station. We’re just a natural…we’re at the cusp of real change. So it’s an exciting time for us," said Thane.

Thane thanked those who supported her over the past eight years. She said “I now get to follow a new path which is tremendously exciting for me” and called her time as mayor the best job she’s ever had.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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