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Several Local Elected Officials Leaving Office In 2021

Saratoga Springs Democratic Mayor Meg Kelly speaks at Repubican headquarters on Election Night 2019
WAMC/Lucas Willard
Saratoga Springs Democratic Mayor Meg Kelly speaks at Repubican headquarters on Election Night 2019

Early in 2021, several elected officials in our region say they won’t seek re-election this year.

After a busy political 2020, the local announcements have been coming fast and furious, scrambling local fields long before petitioning begins.

Holyoke, Massachusetts Mayor Alex Morse was first to look ahead to the fall of 2021.

The Paper City native announced December 1 that he would not run for another term, saying he had never planned to serve more than 10 years as the chief executive of the old mill city. At age 22, Morse was elected in 2011 as the youngest mayor in city history. He has been re-elected three times.

“I want to finish strong,” Morse said. “I do know that I’m guided by the values that have inspired me as mayor of inclusion and forward-thinking values and bringing people together and being of service.”

In 2020, Morse lost a bruising Democratic primary for Congress to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal.

Changes are also in store for several communities in New York. In the Albany County suburb of Colonie, Town Supervisor Paula Mahan will step aside at the end of her seventh term this year. The Democrat has held the post in the town of about 80,000 since 2008.

“Call it retirement. I'm not going to seek reelection,” she told WAMC. “But I'm looking forward to the remainder of my term and getting a lot of things done and working with the great people of the town of Colonie. And it really is more just, this is my 14th year, beginning my 14th year, and I’m very proud of the accomplishments that we've made over the years.”

Mahan narrowly won her last re-election bid, by 106 votes, in a race that went to absentee ballots.

North in Saratoga Springs, Mayor Meg Kelly decided not to seek a third term. The Democrat has about a year left of her second two-year term. She announced the decision January 4. Kelly has been a city hall fixture as a former deputy mayor.

“I did two terms, that’s a good civic duty and I’ve done my public service and it’s time to turn it over. And I think I’m leaving it in a much better place,” she said.

Even further to the north, Glens Falls is also in for a change. Mayor Dan Hall said he won’t seek a second four-year term this fall. The Democrat announced the decision January 11 with Republican Councilwoman Jane Reid. They ran as a unity ticket in 2017.

Hall, who is 70, told the Glens Falls Post-Star that after 13 years in city government, he is ready to spend more time with his family. Hall previously served on the city council.

In the city of Albany, Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan cited the challenges of COVID-19 as her reason to seek a third four-year term this fall despite previous suggestions that she would serve only two. But if she wins, she’ll be dealing with many fresh faces on the Common Council. At least four councilors are not seeking re-election, including Democrat Richard Conti of the 6th Ward, who was first elected in 1997.

“It’ll be 24 years so it’s just time to step down. There’s a lot I think I’ve accomplished over the years, there’s some things I want to get done before my term is out. But it was just time,” he said.

There are also two vacancies to fill on the Schenectady City Council.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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