Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan delivered her State of the City address Monday evening.
Sheehan, a Democrat seeking a third term, acknowledged 2020 was a difficult year, mostly because of the pandemic.
“We began 2020 with a renewed sense of purpose, expecting it to be a year of new investments in downtown Albany as part of our downtown revitalization initiative award. Continued blight reduction when we learned that we had won a million dollar grant program from the New York State Attorney General Tish James, and plans for new playgrounds across our city, including the groundbreaking of the new Albany Skyway. But in mid-March, we learned about the first two cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Albany County. Shortly after we saw a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses and a significant reduction in the capacity of essential businesses.”
Sheehan says COVID-19 put many of her plans for the city on hold. The all-Democrat Common Council is generally unified behind the mayor. 11th ward representative Alfredo Balarin is looking ahead to new investments and developments coming into the city.
“2020 was not easy for anyone. But we all got through it. And I think we'll stronger for it. I think we've learned d from it as well. “
Sheehan recognized a year of social upheaval and racial reckoning ignited by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, which brought civil unrest to cities, including Albany, where the Police Reform Collaborative has been tasked by the state with combating structural racism and bias.
“They've been seeking recommendations they've held 15 community meetings. They've received public input for over five months, and they have now taken that input and created recommendations. Those recommendations are tailored to the specific needs of communities that have been disproportionately impacted by racism, blight, poverty, crime and violence. We are delivering the recommended reforms to the Common Council, and we will be working alongside our council to implement a series of reforms in the coming weeks and months.”
15th ward Councilor Tom Hoey says Sheehan has also dealt with a year of gun violence.
“And with the amount of shootings, and now actually people dying from the shootings, it's very disturbing. And I know she's working with the chief, to try to come up with solutions. But I don't think we've ever been faced with something this bad. “
Sheehan said “Under Chief Hawkins’ leadership, APD has redoubled its efforts to engage in a multi-agency law enforcement strategy that takes guns off the streets, and also works with community organizations like SNUG and our residents and our community or other community based organizations to keep guns out of the hands of our people in the first place. “
Sheehan says community policing is working. 6th Ward Councilor Richard Conti says the mayor addressed issues, challenges and opportunities.
“Some of the important issues, especially in my area, are the Lark Street improvement plan, the Washington Park traffic study, are important to our community, and address some significant issues that we have here. continued focus on equity and investments in neighborhoods, capital investments, investments in parks, and, you know, economic development and revitalization. But we also have a lot of challenges. And it's going to take a lot of us, you know, working together, cooperatively, teamwork, to really to, to move through 2021 and hopefully achieve things that we really want to achieve.”