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Six Democratic candidates seeking higher office in Tuesday’s primary for New York state Assembly’s 109th district seat

Seven candidates for New York state Assembly’s 109th district participated in an environmental forum today live on WAMC.
Dave Lucas
Seven candidates for New York state Assembly’s 109th district participated in an environmental forum at the Linda on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

Six candidates including two Albany County legislators and four Albany Common Council members are vying for the Democratic nomination for the 109th district state Assembly seat in Tuesday’s primary.  

After a decade, Assemblywoman Pat Fahy is running for fellow-Democrat Neil Breslin's 46th state Senate district seat as Breslin retires following 14 terms.

Several Albany-area politicians jumped at the chance to run for Fahy's spot, representing the city of Albany and towns of Slingerlands and New Scotland.

Candidates have appeared together in debates and forums where they've been quizzed about their positions on several issues, including public safety, the environment and infrastructure.

All would like to see changes to Interstate 787: during a forum co-hosted by WAMC and the New York League of Conservation Voters, 10th ward councilor Owusu Anane, the son of immigrants from Ghana, slammed the highway as a testament to racial and environmental injustice. The educator and small business owner wants Albany's riverfront fully accessible to everyone.

“We need major state investment to reopen Albany's waterfront, whether we bury 787 or use some other means to reroute traffic. The project will be a major, major public work endeavor," said Anane. 

Sixth ward councilor Gabriella Romero, a public defender who is also the Working Families Party candidate, wants people who live in the area to have a say in whatever happens there.

"We really need to juxtapose the what it would cost to replace the highway versus what it would cost to be more creative and take down parts of it, " Romero said. 

Albany County Legislator Andrew Joyce represents the 9th district. He believes building a land cap over and/or "boulevarding" 787 would recapture economic potential for downtown, while fellow Legislator Dustin Reidy of the 30th thinks 787 presents a great opportunity to include mixed-income housing and mixed-use zoning to expand taxable properties in the city.

Reidy, a Guilderland resident, also favors holding environmental polluters accountable. "Everything we work on in terms of environment has to pass through the environmental justice lens. We all know socio-economically disadvantaged communities have suffered the most from climate change and climate catastrophes," said Reidy. 

All of the candidates agree replacing lead service lines is crucial to the purity of municipal drinking water. They favor transparency when it comes to disclosing the locations of existing lead water pipes.

Thirteenth ward councilor Ginnie Farrell, with years of experience as an Assembly staffer, has received Fahy's endorsement. Farrell stood with the majority of candidates during a WRGB debate in proclaiming the city of Albany is safe.

"I have relationships with people across the city and I feel very safe in the city," said Farrell. 

Former Legislature Chair Joyce doesn't share that feeling: "Every day or every other day there's a shooting or some kind of firearm being confiscated."

Joyce noted the Albany Police Department, down some 70 officers, is short-staffed and "spread too thin," while 8th ward Common Councilor Jack Flynn, a former Albany County Democratic Committee chair, lamented calls to 911 often get a response "an hour to an hour and a half later."

"I don't think that I feel safe," Flynn said. "I believe it's literally throughout the whole city equally. I think a lot of people in the city of Albany do not feel safe."

Albany County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Kathleen Donovan says the final total for early voting turnout for the primary was 4,604, better than most.

The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Republican candidate Alicia Purdy of Albany in November.

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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