The Democratic candidates for mayor of Albany debated for the first time last night ahead of September’s pivotal primary. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas caught up with them after the event.
- Kathy Sheehan: "There were a lot of good questions and very fair. It was an opportunity for me to talk about my record."
- Frank Commisso: "We were able to talk about a lot of issues that I think voters feel are important."
- Carolyn McLaughlin: "It was good to have an opportunity to talk to a broader audience."
Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Common Councilor Frank Commisso, Jr. and Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin all seemed pleased following the WAMC and WNYT-hosted debate. A wide range of questions were packed into the hour-long debate, but in a city like Albany with so many issues crying for attention, the candidates said plenty was left out.
Sheehan says Albany's diverse population must be protected. "African-Americans, Latinos, LGBT community, the Jewish community, the Muslim community. We need to recognize that all of those communities are thriving here in the city of Albany and they're important to our city... We get federal funding, not because we're a sanctuary city, but because the Trump administration is talking about cutting that finding. What will we do if HUD funding is cut?"
Commisso brought up broadband and the city's landfill woes and new trash fee. "I would have loved to talk about municipal internet in the city of Albany, would've loved to talk about waste management. It just goes to show that there are so many issues that, even after covering, I believe eight or nine issues here in an hour, there was much more left to talk about. Waste management is a looming crisis for the city, that, as early as May, three months ago, you had city folks talking about $375 charge per household."
McLaughlin says she was surprised no questions came up about the nearly at-capacity Rapp Road landfill nor about the city's lack of public access to the internet. "Right up in front of my house sometimes and it's just 'spin, spin, spin, spin.' And if we're gonna advance the education of our children, they've got to have access to the superhighway. I heard a man tell me one time, 'It's good to be able to navigate a dirt road, but sometimes we gotta know how to get out on the highway.' And if they can't get on the technological superhighway, then we cannot offer them the kind of future that we know they have to be prepared for."
The candidates get a second opportunity to weigh in on the issues when they debate once again on August 29th. WAMC will be represented on the panel at the Times Union-hosted event. You can watch the entire debate at wamc.org.