With the incumbent’s candidacy still unclear, another candidate has entered the race for mayor of Albany.
There's a second official candidate in the race for Mayor of Albany. Dan Plaat has announced he's running on the Green Party line. You may recall his 2015 run as a candidate for county executive against the eventual winner, Dan McCoy, and Dan Egan. Mayor Kathy Sheehan, saddled with perennial budget problems, has yet to commit to a re-election bid.
Plaat is a 28 year-old Albany native. The architectural consultant also has longtime ties to the Albany Occupy movement. He says his campaign will focus on economic, environmental and social justice issues. He points out Albany lacks citywide public broadband internet, housing options that people can control and neighborhood participation in the budgeting process. "We really have to rethink and re-engineer the structures and the mechanisms of budgeting. Part of the crisis comes from the part that it's all mayor-centric. It's the mayor's budget and it shouldn't really fall on a single person, not only to have all the power and all the responsibility. The budget affects everybody, and everybody should be partly responsible for it. That means power needs to be distributed. People need to be empowered to make decisions about the budget. What their priorities are in that budget. Because that doesn't happen, then, the mayor and their staff and their priorities."
Plaat finds Albany taxes "regressive." He favors a progressive system where... "...people who can pay more do pay more. Moving to income, or land value taxes, instead of property. Taxing land instead of what's on it when people build. And also exploring other taxes, light meter taxes, which might need state approval."
If elected, Platt foresees development of "a sustainable economic plan for the city." He has ideas about dealing with the city’s near-full landfill. "One step, ecological step, is to do what others do with their landfills, which is actually collect the gases that it emits. That's all natural gas, methane, that comes off that goes into the air. You can collect that and that's natural gas that can go right into local homes or the local power grid. Long term, we need to think about strategies for actual trash reduction. We make a lot of waste, in the food system, and generally."
Plaat says he would establish an office for food policy and look into creating solar farms and urban gardens within city limits. "Being ecological means knowing how things are connected. I have studied those things as an architect, as someone who has studied cities and urban planning. Things are connected. Ecological thinking is more future-focused."
Plaat says he would continue Albany's community policing policy. "Community policing is still kind of talked down. It's the police dealing with the community more, rather on their terms, and I think that relationship should be reversed in which it's the community employing the police on their terms."
Plaat says he's on the same side of issues dear to Black Lives Matter activists.
In the mayoral race, Plaat joins Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, who announced in January that she is preparing for a run in September’s Democratic Primary. "If I didn't believe that this was winnable, believe you me I would not be undertaking this task."
Plaat says he'll be running "as non-competitive a campaign as is possible." Because, he explains, he's not the one with all the answers. "Should I win, would I win, if I win, I will accept the quote unquote losing candidates, I will invite them to have positions in city government."
That idea has been promulgated by previous mayoral hopefuls.
Conservative Buckingham Pond Neighborhood activist Joe Sullivan ran in 2013 - he's on the sidelines for now. "I'm looking for people that oppose Albany being a Sanctuary City. People who want to protect our neighborhoods, particularly our residential neighborhoods. To develop our energy resources, including oil and natural gas, electricity, to provide jobs in the city of Albany. People who oppose the trash. I prefer to find other people to run. If I don't find people that step up and support these issues, I'm considering running."
Others considering runs include 15th Ward Councilman Frank Commisso Jr. and community advocate Marlon Anderson.