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Independent Albany mayoral candidate outlines criminal justice plans after weekend violence

Albany Independence Party candidate for Mayor Greg Aidala
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas
Albany Independence Party candidate for Mayor Greg Aidala

As gun violence continues in the city of Albany, mayoral candidates in next month’s election are offering their ideas to deter crime.

Police reports of shootings in the city come almost on a daily basis. Last weekend one man was killed and six others injured outside what's been described as an underground "social club" at 117 North Lake Avenue.

Independent mayoral candidate Greg Aidala says it’s simply wrong that shootings have become commonplace and blames second-term Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “ You know, a month ago there was another homicide right here on Quail and Second (that) was squashed. I was interviewed by another news channel for four and a half minutes and they use seven seconds of it. And that's really sad because when you don't come out and denounce and stand up for the community, what are you telling them? That is your job. And what are you saying to the families and the victims that are left to deal with that, that they don't count and they don't matter?”

Thursday morning outside his family's auto business in West Hill, Aidala unveiled his anti-crime agenda, which he says would restore public safety and make Albany the “Safest Small City in America.” It entails a zero-tolerance crime policy, empowering citizens and police to work together to stomp out crime, establishing a city "tip line" to report crimes and concerns and increasing police funding and staffing. “ I will ensure that the Albany police department is properly funded and staffed. We must retain existing officers. We're down here - officers have retired or transferred and are not being replaced,” Aidala said.

Aidala says violence in Albany is akin to many poorer countries where "death is just around the corner," so bolstering the police force only makes good sense. “They're so understaffed that there should be at least two cops in every car for everyone's safety. And, look, the world can be a violent place. OK? There are bad people in the world no matter where you live. This isn't just unique to Albany. But I think we need to stomp out crime. We cannot. The first order of government is to protect the citizens worldwide. It's not even happening in Albany.”

Republican mayoral hopeful Alicia Purdy has made crime a central focus of her campaign. Purdy said “We need Albany to be a city where people will invest in put down roots and increase the tax base. We cannot do that until we get a grip on violence and crime. And clearly, every mayoral candidate in Albany is going to stand up and say, This is unacceptable.”

Aidala, Purdy and Sheehan are scheduled to participate in a virtual forum October 20th.

Albany Police have not responded to requests for comment on the most recent episodes of violence beyond the department’s announcements.

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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