A third candidate has emerged to challenge Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s bid for a third term.
Wednesday outside Quail Auto in Albany's West Hill, comedian Greg Aidala announced his candidacy for mayor of Albany.
Aidala says he has become concerned over what he says is lawlessness that has settled upon the city over the last year, and even more concerned about city hall’s response when he emailed officials out about a stray bullet that whizzed by his family's 78-year old used car business, hitting a nearby day care. No children were hurt. He says he eventually met with Sheehan, a Democrat, and was told his email was apparently lost.
"I said to the mayor, I said, 'if you are losing my email, then what else are you losing in city hall?' And I didn't mean that in a derogatory or below the belt comment. I actually asked that in a very genuine way."
Aidala says after an initial meeting with Sheehan and then-acting police chief Bob Sears, he never heard from the two again. Then last summer came the last straw.
"There was a stray bullet that hit a beautiful woman who was 80 years old, just visiting here, on the corner, and a stray bullet struck her in the neck. The mayor, in print and quote, has said 'with these retaliatory shots, if you're talking with someone and you're next to them, and the bullet's intended for them and you get hit, well, you're just at the wrong place at the wrong time."
Aidala says a statement like that is dangerous and does not fortify relationships within communities. He's come up with a five-point campaign platform: implement clear communication between police and community. Hold absentee landlords accountable to eliminate blight. Help Albany High School bolster its 68 percent graduation rate. Invite businesses to relocate in Albany and raise morale and pride throughout the city to boost positivity.
"There are too many good people in this city, who work for the city, who live in the city, and also within the Capital District, that deserve a positive voice and a positive face to lift those morals up to new heights. I truly believe that. My campaign will absolutely not be focused on party politics. The goal in mind is to work for, and by the people with clear communication, collaboration, and non-partisanship."
The Sheehan campaign could not be reached for comment. Aidala joins city activist Lukee Forbes and Reverend Valerie Faust in challenging Sheehan.
Aidala has not held elective office. He says he made an apartment on his family’s property his main address while planning to launch a mayoral campaign for the past five months. It’s not clear where he’ll appear on the general election ballot in November. Aidala says he is running as an independent candidate and as such will not participate in the key Democratic primary.