The troubled Cohoes Senior Center was the venue for today’s State of the City address by new Mayor Bill Keeler. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there.
The pledge of allegiance, an opening prayer, and the national anthem sung by the Cohoes High School Select Chorus set the stage as the Albany County city marks its 150th anniversary. Newly-elected Democratic Mayor Bill Keeler stepped up to the podium: "Just over 40 days ago, I stood on a stage at the Cohoes Music Hall surrounded by family, colleagues and friends. I raised my right hand and I pledged to discharge the duties of the office of mayor. It's a pledge I take very seriously. At that time, and repeatedly since, I promised that I would do three things. First and foremost, I would work to return honor, integrity and professionalism to City Hall. Secondly, I would work to restore a sense of community in Cohoes. And number three, I would work to rebuild the strained relationships with federal, state and local officials who are essential partners in moving Cohoes forward. In just 40 days working together, we have made progress on all fronts.”
Keeler says the city is back on track, but... "There are dubious economic development deals done in the last four years, the taxpayers will be burdened with for decades. There are potentially costly irregularities in the Civil Service Office. And the city has paid and will continue to pay a high price for leadership issues that allowed our police department become politicized."
Keeler is referring to former Mayor Shawn Morse. Keeler declined to comment on Morse's sentencing to probation last week after pleading guilty to wire fraud.
Keeler says that while some of his discoveries are troubling, they're not insurmountable and he's confident he can guide the city forward.
Former Cohoes mayor and now state Assemblyman John McDonald says Keeler gave "a great address." "He identified some of the issues or concerns that most residents they've shared. By the same token, like any other good leader, he focused, mentioned what the issues, are but mostly focused about how he's going to address those issues. And I think that's that's what Cohosiers wanted to hear. That's what they needed to hear. And Bill delivered that message pretty straight tonight."
Keeler: "Look, going forward there's a number of things that are already underway that I believe will bear fruit. Economic Development Director Steve Napier and I have been tirelessly meeting with investors and businesspeople to attract them to Cohoes. In some cases they've been waiting to come to Cohoes. So you know I see a lot of potential, so I'm excited."