The mayors of the Capital Region’s four biggest cities met today for a discussion about leadership.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden and Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly—all Democrats — spoke for an hour at the Times Union building, billed as "The Meeting of the Mayors."
In a discussion moderated by Times Union Editor Rex Smith, the four discussed some of the challenges their cities share and the issues they deal with day-by-day. Asked about competition and regionalization, Sheehan emphasized the mayors enjoy a unique camaraderie. "The first issue that we tackled was the call from President Obama to end veterans' homelessness. And we got together through HUD to work on that issue together, all four cities. When we applied for the Bloomberg Arts Grant, Albany, Schenectady and Troy applied together to use public art to literally shine a light on vacant and abandoned buildings. And we continue to work together and learn from one another."
When it comes to dealing with state government, Sheehan said while Albany benefits from being the capital, she bemoaned the recurring city budget shortfall of $12.5 million and the annual call for the state to provide the rest. McCarthy expressed displeasure with unfunded state mandates. Kelly mentioned that Saratoga Springs has to add a new courtroom as a result of an unfunded mandate. Madden just wants more appreciation. "I think that there needs to be recognition on the state level of the roles that the cities play in the overall health of the entire state. In terms of the economic engines of the cities, the services that we provide that we're not compensated for.”
Smith asked the mayors what they worry about. Madden and McCarthy are concerned about public safety and the proliferation of guns. Kelly is concerned about the Saratoga Springs City Center: "I do worry about our economic engine, our city center. We really need a parking garage. I'm really pushing hard to get that through. That is a priority for me and my administration."
Sheehan worries about the impact of poverty. "Well you know I think it's the thing that underlies the crime and the violence that we grapple with in our cities and that is the number of people for whom our education system did not work. And so, there are a whole host of underlying issues that come with poverty."
Wonder what the mayors’ favorite parts of their jobs are?
Kelly says she is ingrained in the community and likes working with the people of Saratoga Springs.
Madden loves to go into neighborhoods and engage with people.
McCarthy agreed, adding he loves to speak with residents.
Sheehan praised the city workers she says have "taken ownership of their jobs and help make positive changes to local government.”