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Troy mayoral candidates discuss environmental issues facing the city

Troy mayoral candidate Nina Nichols, a Democrat, during a forum moderated by Kate Lisa, a political reporter for Spectrum News 1.
Samantha Simmons
Troy mayoral candidate Nina Nichols, a Democrat, during a forum moderated by Kate Lisa, a political reporter for Spectrum News 1.

Candidates in Troy’s mayoral race participated in a forum hosted by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund on Thursday night.

The mayoral race comes after a summer of extreme heat, rain and smoky skies from the Canadian wildfires. Now, voters in Troy will pick a new mayor with Democrat Patrick Madden limited and unable to run for a third term.

At The Arts Center of the Capital Region, Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello and Democratic Rensselaer County Legislator Nina Nichols shared their plans to make Troy a more environmentally friendly and accessible city.

Mantello’s focus was the city’s nearly 8-mile stretch of waterfront. The Hudson River has been a vital resource for centuries for economic development and settlement up and down the state.

The former Director of the state’s Canal Corporation, Mantello says the city is not taking full advantage of the waterfront. She says creating partnerships with developers will keep them from investing elsewhere.

“It's all about connecting these all the way down to South Troy, and really making our waterfront and our Hudson River, the front door to economic development and environmental protection trails,” Mantello said. “I did that statewide. I plan to do it here.”

Mantello says she is focused on ensuring no funding is left untapped to improve residents’ quality of life, especially when it comes to the replacement of lead pipes, an ongoing controversy in the city.

“We have pledged to utilize federal state and bonded money to replace all pipes all throughout the city of Troy, at the city's expense, but utilizing federal state city dollars,” Mantello said. “I will pledge during my first term to attempt, it's very ambitious, but to replace all pipes here in the city of Troy during that time. We have hired an outside contractor; we've already done about 70-something private properties; we'll continue that.”

Troy is a “Climate Smart Community,” meaning the local government works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Like many surrounding municipalities, the city of Troy has partnered with the Capital District Transportation Authority to push for environmentally friendly ways to get around. More bike lanes have been established, bus lines have been improved, and bikes and electric scooters are available.

Nichols, an Assistant Director of Development at Unity House, says getting the community interested and involved in green efforts would a priority. She says before COVID, there were several community groups throughout the city, but most have disappeared.

“I’m looking for some ways that we can really incentivize people to come to those meetings,” Nichols said. “And one way is to make sure that when we’re getting information that we’re being responsive and reactive to what neighbors say they need in their community.”

Last week, a building on Fourth Street collapsed, displacing several families. Nichols says as a growing number of buildings become vacant, she would focus on strengthening Code Enforcement to deal with vacant and unsafe buildings.

“We know that when our vacant buildings get left unattended, crime takes root there,” Nichols said. “Youth who are looking for adventure may find very unsafe places to hang out. In addition to our vacant buildings, also addressing our negligent landlords.”

Early voting begins on October 28th and runs through November 5th.

Samantha joined the WAMC staff after interning during her final semester at the University at Albany. A Troy native, she looks forward to covering what matters most to those in her community. Aside from working, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat. She can be reached by phone at (518)-465-5233 Ext. 211 or by email at ssimmons@wamc.org.