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It’s a rematch in battle for mayor of Rensselaer

Democrat Rich Mooney & Republican Mike Stammel
Composite photo Sabrina Flores (Mooney) Dave Lucas (Stammel)
Democrat Rich Mooney & Republican Mike Stammel

Voters in the city of Rensselaer are choosing a mayor in a rematch.

Democrat Rich Mooney was Common Council president when he succeeded Dan Dwyer, who died in office in 2018. A special election in 2019 pit Mooney against challenger Republican Rensselaer County Legislature chair Mike Stammel, who won by 164 votes. Now the two are squaring off once again.

“I've decided to focus on the city of Rensselaer,” said Stammel, who is leaving the legislature after 20 years, after the Democratic-led Rensselaer Common Council passed legislation prohibiting any city official from holding another elected position.

Stammel and Mooney agree the biggest issue the city faces is the troubled Dunn Landfill.

"My stance is the same," Stammel said. "I've never changed it since 2012, when I first heard that the dump was coming to the city of Rensselaer. I've been opposed to it since then I'm going to continue to be opposed to it. And I'll use whatever resources I can in order to convince the DEC to shut it down when it comes up for review next year.”

"Obviously, yes, the Dunn landfill is an issue," Mooney said. "And I came out against the Dunn landfill. The big issue now we're having in the city of Rensselaer or just, I think Rensselaer has come to a standstill."

Both candidates say they believe the city has untapped potential. Mooney says he is ready to serve residents.

"I have no agenda other than the city of Rennselaer," Mooney said.

Mooney says he’s confident during the early voting period leading up to election day November 2.

"I knocked on numerous doors, sent out numerous mailers, the response I'm receiving from the residents has been positive and encouraging," he said.

Mooney adds he would have liked to engage Stammel in debate.

"There was a call for debate," Mooney said. "I responded to a debate from the League of Women Voters. Unfortunately my email reply went to their spam folder. The League of Women Voters confirmed that my answer went to the spam folder and right now I'd rather take my case directly to the voters."

"I wish I'd had the opportunity to debate him," Stammel said. "I've tried to debate him, I put out two calls to debate him twice. And he has not responded either time. But with that being said, you know, I think my chances are as good as they are anytime. No, nobody running for office thinks they got a shoo in, you know, you run your run like you're losing all the time."

Mooney wants voters to know his heart and soul are in the Hudson River city of about 10,000 residents.

"I'm aggressive," Mooney said. "I'm out there. Rensselaer is my home, born and raised, two kids, married there. Rensselaer is just my home and I can bring a ton of energy and positive vibe to the city that is sorely lacking right now. The council is all Democrat, and in my short time as mayor, the council and I got along great. We had projects in the works, but unfortunately the current mayor describes this council as 'a bunch of radical Democrats' and refuses to work with them."

Stammel stands by his record.

"As far as clashes with the council goes, you know, that that was just plays of politics, you know, that they used their authority to circumvent my powers as much as possible," Stammel said. "But with that being said, there's lots going on in Rensselaer right now. I have new buildings going up activities in the streets, with, with volunteers, doing paintings underneath the bridge, and you know have an IDA up and running that wasn't running before, that the last administration was shut down because the comptroller's office said that they weren't filing the proper paperwork, the proper records. So I'm doing a lot of things that needed to be done in the city of Rensselaer. And I'm going to continue to do that as long as I stay as mayor."

Stammel appears on the Republican and Conservative lines.

Mooney is on the Democratic, Working Families and Independent Rensselaer Party lines.

The victor wins a four-year term.

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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