Three candidates are vying for Albany’s 7th Ward Common Council seat.
Cathy Fahey has represented the 7th Ward since 2006. She is one of five senior Albany Common Council members not running for another term this year.
Three candidates have emerged: Violetta De Rosa describes herself as a progressive Democrat who has always been "marching for change" and has lived in Albany for 15 years.
"I am the daughter of Italian immigrants, post-World War II immigrants, and I came from, emigrated from Canada, with my Australian husband. So we were living in Vancouver, we met in Vancouver, where we then immigrated to the United States, we lived in Texas, and then California. And then we wanted to be closer to my family, but still stateside. So that was 16 years ago, and we've been in Albany, in the same home for the last since that time, and we took the oath in '09."
Sergio Adams made an unsuccessful run for the seat in 2017 and is trying again this year. The Hudson Park resident has an urban planning background.
"I decided to run this race because as a resident living in the city of Albany, I've realized over the course of years that housing was a huge issue for me. And when I looked at the housing situation, in the city of Albany, it made me remember much of my childhood, of having issues with housing instability, being unhoused, for several years. And when I graduated from SUNY Albany, with my degree in urban planning, I was figuring out what was the best way to use my skills, and for me that came down to community development."
Brian Scavo is a decades-long resident of the 7th ward.
"I'm a former Albany County legislator, Vietnam veteran 101st Airborne US Army. I've been an automotive business for 35 years, lifelong Democrat, homeowner. And my family owned Scavo's Food Market. And let me tell you why I'm running, Dave. The real issues are violent gun crime in Albany has risen over the past eight years by 75%. Taxes have increased in the city of Albany by 40% over eight years."
Scavo has also been in the headlines for his brushes with the law. He was found guilty of harassment in 2016, and was sentenced to jail time in a check forgery case. Both cases are under appeal.
The candidates see sets of distinctly different issues facing the ward. For De Rosa, "quality of life" tops the list.
"We have absentee landlords, we have, you know, urban blight issues. We also have, we need economic development in our ward. And we need to bring more businesses to our ward, and specifically to Delaware Avenue. You know, the pandemic has really highlighted the urgency for economic development. And I'm not just talking about having, you know, some new restaurant, but also becoming, having the ward becoming more of a destination place."
Adams counts public safety, poverty, youth and housing among his main concerns.
"Affordable housing will always be that number one issue. The 7th Ward, we have quite a few vacant buildings and homes sprinkled throughout the ward. And a lot of this is coming down to again, absentee landlords, and the lack of follow up on these properties when there are issues with them. And so focusing on housing, but also looking at the community, and what the community wants, which is better for traffic control devices, and safety in our neighborhoods."
Scavo says the most pressing issues are helping people and ensuring residents’ personal safety.
"Our streets are too dark at night. Brighter lights and more lights would deter crime. I think that the streets and many of the sidewalks are in disrepair as I walked through the neighborhoods, and the city of Albany's COVID response was poorly administered. Good paying jobs have not been brought into our city. We need cops on the beat, snow removal for seniors and the disabled, and the COVID-19 relief money should be partially distributed to the poor people, to the taxpayers of Albany."
The 7th Ward includes Delaware Avenue and parts of Hackett Boulevard and New Scotland Avenue.