Albany Common Councilor Frank Commisso Jr. has joined the short list of mayoral candidates. WAMC's Dave Lucas attended Commisso's official announcement Thursday.
Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners emceed for Commisso at a packed Polish Community Center, where Commisso formally kicked off his candidacy for mayor of Albany, telling the crowd of nearly 500 he'll be the mayor for all citizens of all walks of life. "But I wanna talk about an overarching reason why I'm running for mayor. There's a lack of fairness in our economy in the city of Albany."
Commisso, who represents the 15th Ward on the Common Council, touts his seven-year involvement with city politics and his employment with Albany County government as plusses for improving the city's fiscal health. He tells WAMC that starts with the municipal budget. "First you're going to need a city budget that people know is a budget that is an honest document, without gimmicks, and is a budget that reflects our values in the city of Albany. In addition to that, we're going to need a growing economy going forward. So over the next three, five, seven years we need an economy that can grow, and that's not happening right now either when you look at taxable property. So that combination there, has really led to a case where we have this tremendous budget deficit, and it seems that the folks in city hall are just totally incapable of addressing."
Among Commisso supporters: Judy Logan, who in February announced she's running for city treasurer in an attempt to unseat Darius Shahinfar: "Frank has the abilities that are necessary for him to advocate in all capacities for our residents and our workers in the city of Albany and to achieve the results that will benefit everyone. I can't wait to knock on doors across Albany and speak to all of you, my neighbors and together we will bring leadership back to Albany."
Commisso has often criticized first-term incumbent Mayor Sheehan, and after leaving her January State of the City address early, told reporters his fellow Democrat didn't address any concrete issues.
Commisso pulled no punches Thursday as he pointed his perceived failures of the Sheehan administration out to the crowd, citing Monday night's common council vote to sell the Palace Theatre, the red light camera program, the nearly full landfill, skittish labor relations and the tax-free situation at SUNY Poly. "We need to have a new city charter, and that's something I'd love to do by 2020, is to get a new city charter on the ballot in the general election in November, when there's a presidential election. A lot of people turn out."
The Sheehan administration has had a rocky relationship with labor unions. Gary Ero is a field rep for Laborers’ Local 190: "You know we're definitely for Frank, we're for change in the city of Albany. We just feel that right now there's not much really going on, especially for helping labor. You know a lot of contracts in the city of Albany go non-union. Not to say that somebody new is going to change everything, but it's definitely gotta go in a different direction than where it's going right now."
Commisso also counts among supporters fellow council members Mark Robinson and Judd Krasher; the three cast the opposing votes to the Palace Theatre sale.
A spokesman for Mayor Sheehan responded to a request for comment about Commisso's entering the race with an email explaining "she’s out of town until tonight," containing this formal statement:
- “The Mayor has said many times that it would be a privilege to serve the residents of Albany as Mayor for another four years. Right now, she’s focused on securing Capital City Funding from the State and continuing the work she’s done to guide the city toward a sustainable fiscal future. There will be plenty of time for politics as the election season draws near.”
Commisso joins Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, who announced her candidacy in January. Dan Plaat followed suit in February, announcing a run on the Green Party line. Community activist Marlon Anderson and neighborhood activist Joe Sullivan have said they will consider running.