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Former Albany Common Councilor’s COVID-19 Death Comes As A Shock


A prominent Albany Democrat has died of COVID-19.

Former two-term Albany Common Councilor Ron Bailey is being remembered as a community activist. He died August 31st following a short battle with COVID-19. The 62-year old served two terms as 3rd Ward councilor.

In 2009 he won the seat vacated by Corey Ellis after Ellis, now Common Council President, launched a bid for mayor. In 2017 Bailey lost the Democratic line to Joyce Love.

Bailey described himself as a fierce advocate for his West Hill/Arbor Hill/Sheridan Hollow community. In 2014 he butted heads with Mayor Kathy Sheehan over her proposal to eliminate Ladder 1 in the South End.

"I always thought it was a scare tactic to get red light cameras through. I wasn't gonna allow myself to be blackmailed into that, because I wasn't for the red light cameras, and I'm still not for 'em."

The cameras were OKed on an 11-4 vote, and Sheehan reached a deal with the Firefighters Union to keep Ladder 1 operational. The Democrat spoke with WAMC Tuesday:

"Very sad to have lost somebody who really worked hard to provide service and make a difference, particularly to his neighborhood and to his ward. And, you know, he's somebody who, while we didn't always necessarily agree with each other on everything, he certainly was an advocate for what he believed that the residents of West Hill and Arbor Hill needed and he's going to be a loss to our community."

Bailey was particularly troubled by gun violence, telling WAMC in 2014 he was frustrated by the cycle: a shooting would be followed by memorials, tributes, candlelight vigils and community outrage.

"When do we stop having meetings and move forward to action?"

A question people still ask in 2021.

Current 10th ward councilor Owusu Anane remembers Bailey as a mentor who "spoke truth to power."

"And then I think that he did. Put his life for the people. And Ron Bailey was that champion. He was a champion for the city."

Calling hours are September 8, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Elijah Missionary Baptist Church, 70 Second Avenue. A service is scheduled to follow at 11 a.m.

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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