City Of Rensselaer Poised For Big Changes At City Hall In 2020 | WAMC

City Of Rensselaer Poised For Big Changes At City Hall In 2020

Dec 26, 2019

The death of longtime Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer set the stage for a change of power in the Hudson River city.

Democrat Dan Dwyer died in November of 2018 at age 84 after a battle with cancer. The former Air Force pilot and longtime employee of Pan American Airways was first elected in 2005, the same year current Mayor Rich Mooney was elected to Rensselaer's Common Council.

Dwyer oversaw the groundbreaking of a new $3 million Hudson River walkway at De Laet's Landing. He lamented his city's failure to win the coveted Capital Region casino license, awarded to Schenectady.  Here's Mayor Mooney:    "I was sitting here with the mayor when we got the news that it went to Schenectady. The mayor sat here, and he was upset. And within the hour he said 'Richie, we're changing plans, we're shifting directions, we're gonna move forward, we're gonna develop the river.' He was upset but once he lost he went on to Plan B. But that was Dan, he had a plan B and went with it."

Upon Dwyer's death, Mooney, a Democrat who had served as Common Council President since 2017, was sworn in as the city's 33rd mayor, as per the city charter.

Mooney lost the November election to Rensselaer County Legislature Chair Mike Stammel, a Republican who describes the transition period as difficult.   "A couple of department heads resigned, a couple of them are out sick. So it's very difficult to get a handle on them and communicate with them and see exactly what's going on until I really have some authority to walk in the front door and ask some good questions to  their staff."

  • Dave Lucas "What can the citizens of the city expect from their new mayor?"

"Transparency. I want people to know what's going on in government every day and be accessible. Transparency is very important to me. I'm good at that on the county legislature side and I expect to do the same in the city government."

Mooney has not returned calls for comment. Stammel panned a newspaper report that says he tapped a fellow Republican, embattled former Rensselaer County DA Joel Abelove, for a part-time post as Rensselaer city attorney.  "The paper kind of expounded on something that wasn't truly factual. Him as well as other attorneys that I've reached out to, I asked if they're interested, Joel was one who said, you know, 'I'll consider it I'll get back to you.' So that's the end of the story."

Reached by WAMC, Abelove declined to comment.

Stammel says his established positive relationships with Republican County Executive Steve McLaughlin, Sheriff Patrick Russo and other county officials through his legislative work will enhance his ability to lead the city of about 9,000 people. He says he has also cleared  the dual county-city role with the state attorney general before running for mayor.