It’s all about turnout in today’s pivotal Albany primaries. Candidates relish the final showdown.
Months of door-knocking, phone banking, forums and press conferences come to a head today throughout the city of Albany. First-term Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan started Primary Day with a band of supporters gathered at the corner of Madison Avenue and North Allen Street to greet motorists entering the city. Sheehan has loaned her campaign nearly $400,000 in her quest for a second term.
Common Councilor Frank Commisso Jr. has been out stumping and posting updates on his Facebook page; the mayoral hopeful has been using text messaging as a campaign tool. He's also distributed his own TV ad. In recent years low turnout has been the norm for Albany elections. Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, who up until now has campaigned for the corner office the old fashioned way — door-to-door, word-of-mouth — dramatically ramped up her effort Monday, making a passionate plea to the community to show up at the polls. "Don't undervalue your vote. Don't be marginalized. Come out and vote. And when you vote, we all win. I want you to come out and vote and let the city of Albany know that you have a voice. All of my supporters who come from all over the city of Albany, please don't stay home. Please do not stay home."
McLaughlin has picked a bone with pollster Steve Greenberg and the Siena Research Institute, insisting the two mayoral polls it conducted are flawed. "We've had conversations with those did the survey of the 600 people. They will not give us the zip codes of who they called. That's significant. Did they call 12202, 12206, 12210, 12204? Did they call anybody? I've yet to find somebody who got that phone call. And if you called them two weeks ago, and you called them same people yesterday, what are you gonna get? The same result!"
McLaughlin’s sister, Albany County legislator Wanda Willingham, headed the candidate's poll investigation. "I wanted to know who they considered a 'likely primary voter.' I asked for the zip codes, I also wanted to know what was included in their sampling, and they volunteered that they used people who never voted, and I said 'you realize that there's 4,247 people who've never voted."
Siena’s Greenberg responded to a request for comment with an email, stating- quote: “The Spectrum News / Siena polls each placed phone calls to a sample of respondents registered as Democrats, who were targeted based on their history of voting in elections in Albany over the last four years. Additionally, a series of questions were asked within those polls, specifically to determine the respondents’ likelihood of voting in this primary.”
Another important race is the one for McLaughlin's post as Common Council President. Former mayoral candidate Corey Ellis, County Legislator Chris Higgins and Councilor Mark Robinson are vying for McLaughlin's seat. Ellis says "democracy is a participatory sport." "There's also other candidates on the ballot as well. We have county coroner's race, people running for judge, and also for people in local city council races. Uh, with me, running for Common Council President, it's a very important position, citywide elected, but also it has to be a position that works closely with the mayor, because it is the next in line, as far as if something should happen, God forbid, you need to get out and vote no matter who you vote for."
Polls are open until 9 p.m. Click here to find your neighborhood polling place. Click on the image below to view a sample ballot.