In advance of the September primary, the Democratic candidates for Albany County Executive squared off Wednesday night before a packed house in downtown Albany in a "candidate forum."
Based on questions that were selected from cards filled out by audience members, topics included oil trains and green energy, substance abuse and addiction, veterans, seniors and the land bank.
Sitting County Executive Dan McCoy is a former city firefighter. He was first elected in 2011, after a 12-year stint as a county legislator.
McCoy’s challenger, former Albany School Board member Dan Egan, took an offensive stance from the get-go, sideswiping McCoy on nearly every issue - praising county legislators for saving the Albany County Nursing Home from an initial privatization effort McCoy had led. McCoy countered, arguing he and the legislature partnered up to SAVE the nursing home.
Answering a query regarding economic development, Egan told the crowd contractors think they won't get county work if they "don't pay off the right guy."
Egan brings up the 2011 redistrict plan, which was ruled illegal: "The architect of that plan is sitting next me."
McCoy rebounded arguing redistricting was "all about politics." "I would be damned if I was going to let my own Dem Party fix elections."
Egan raised hackles among audience members when he claimed 39 seniors died on the waiting list for the in-home services under McCoy's watch. McCoy branded Egan's remark "outrageous." In the audience, city resident Chris Collarusso found the remarks disturbing and gives her interpretation. "Mr. Egan said that 39 people died on the waiting list. Mr. McCoy stood and said 'I am offended in front of my family that Mr. Egan is saying I killed 39 senior citizens. Mr. Egan did not say that or imply that, he stated factual information. Mr. McCoy used that statement to be a bully and to get his troops in this room to call out and applaud him and scream in defense of him."
McCoy addressed the allegation when Egan first made it earlier in the day, telling Time Warner Cable News. "Maybe he should go be Donald Trump's Vice President."
"This is just a family fight between Democrats, said Albany historian and former Assemblyman Jack McEneny.
As the forum continued on, Egan touted diversity on his campaign team. McCoy says he's diversified his government workforce to represent the populace.
The last question of the evening was "What is the most important issue to you, and how are you going to solve it?" Egan responded his top priority is "economic development for everyone." McCoy cited his work to improve indigent defense to bring fairness to the criminal justice system.
In summation remarks, both candidates invoked the Obama campaign buzzword: Change -- "The old ways of doing things aren't working in Albany County. We need a government of transparency, with integrity and with efficiency. A government that works for all of us, for a change," said Egan. McCoy replied: "...because we need to change for the people. We need to change for the time. I'm here to change for the times. I'm here to change for the times. I'm with you , I hope you're with me."
1st Ward Leader Andres Rivera weighs in. "There hasn't been really this type of forum for a County Exec. So it's interesting that we got two different views, you know what I mean, same goals... let's see what the polls say. I thought both of them were very interesting."
1st ward councilwoman Dorcey Applyrs: "People came out to hear what these candidates had to say so that they can make an informed decision Primary Day. So I was impressed by the turnout, but also impressed by the questions that were raised by county residents in this room tonight."
McEneny believes the forum was a good thing for voters to experience. "They were enthusiastic. They had an opportunity to see what somebody's mettle was, as opposed to watching canned ads on TV and voiceovers with pleasing voices."