The 2013 Totally Biased City Of Albany Election Guid

August 29, 2013

The Democratic Primary on September 10 is the real election in the City of Albany while the November election is usually a rubberstamp, here is a guide to the Democratic candidates

It’s a long article, and I don’t want anybody to teal deer it, so jump to the race you want to know about by clicking on the appropriate line:

The Mayor: End of the shadow government
First Ward: Dorcey Applyrs, Andres Rivera and a guy who can’t spell his own name
Second Ward: Vivian Kornegay, Lester has got to go
Third Ward: Ron Bailey whether you want him or not
Fourth Ward: A real Albany cop
Fifth Ward: Jackie J-C, a truck driver and a druglord
Sixth Ward: Richard rules, nothing to see here
Seventh Ward: Cathy Fahey meets Tim Carney
Eighth Ward: Jack and Lenny, what a choice
Ninth Ward: Judy Doesschate and a guy named Terrence
Tenth Ward: Leah Golby and Owuse Anane
Eleventh Ward: Anton encounters Judd Krasher
Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth Ward: A free ride for Uptown
Fifteenth Ward: Welcome to Commissoville
President, Treasurer, Auditor: Well, the Treasurer is a contest

The Mayor

When outgoing mayor Jerry Jennings announced at the end of May that He was not going to run for a sixth term, Kathy Sheehan instantly lost her hard-earned status as the up and coming reform-minded dissident underdog. Within two days she became the de facto mayor elect endorsed by the Democratic Party. And in the eyes of many, particularly young voters and black voters, she instantly became The Establishment.

Kathy Sheehan After Receiving The Endorsement Of The Albany County Democratic Committee Kathy Sheehan After Receiving The Endorsement Of The Albany County Democratic Committee

To those of us who have fought that seemingly unassailable Old Boy establishment for decades and lately have been supporting Ms. Sheehan’s run for mayor, this sudden end to the Jennings Machine seems exceedingly strange and is a bit difficult to get used to. But from what I’ve been seeing, for the average voter in Albany who only thinks about politics around election time, there will merely be a change of heads at the top. As far as most people are concerned, the only significant change is that our next mayor is going to be a woman.

Ms. Sheehan’s only serious rival in the Democratic Primary that will take place on September 10 is Corey Ellis. You may recall that Mr. Ellis ran a miserable and unconvincing campaign against Jerry Jennings in 2009, yet he still managed to pull in 44 percent of the vote. From the mutters and grumbles that I listened to after that 2009 Primary it seems that the vast majority of that 44 percent vote was not for Mr. Ellis, but against Jerry Jennings.

To underscore that point, a Sienna College poll taken at the end of this past July put Ms. Sheehan ahead of Mr. Ellis at 54 to 23 percent. That’s quite a drop for a candidate with wide name recognition. Clearly when presented with a strong alternative to Jennings, a large chunk of the electorate is ready to leave both Jerry Jennings and Mr. Ellis behind.

Corey Ellis After The Endorsement Went To Kathy Sheehan Corey Ellis After The Endorsement Went To Kathy Sheehan

But one thing I’ve observed from conversations with young people under the age of thirty is that Ms. Sheehan is not seen by them as a political game-changer who has successfully upended the old boy incumbent. Rather many of them see her as just another clueless Baby Boomer. As far as many young voters are concerned the Baby Boomers have to be removed from our government if we want to find solutions to our problems.

I have to say that I was taken aback by this attitude when I first picked up on it, but I shouldn’t have been. Informed and politically minded youth have been horrified by the sheer magnitude of Baby Boomer Barack Obama’s betrayal of the Bill of Rights and his slavish pandering to corporate parasites. The young put Obama into office with their enthusiastic support, the lesson the young seem to have taken from his betrayal is to not trust promises made by the individuals of Obama’s generation.

And don’t think for a moment that the attack on the Occupy Albany encampment shortly before Christmas 2011 has been forgotten. The camp was destroyed by the ruling Baby Boomers, Jerry Jennings, NY State governor Andrew Cuomo and ultimately coordinated by the Boomer in the White House. It was the non-Boomers who hesitated to attack, such as police chief Steven Krokoff and District Attorney David Soares, who is still getting flak for his refusal to persecute Occupy with bogus prosecutions.

Jerry Jennings In June Announcing His Retirement  Jerry Jennings In June Announcing His Retirement

From what I hear, the prevailing thought among the young is that, like Jerry Jennings and like Barack Obama, the moment Ms. Sheehan gets into the executive position she will become just another monster obsessed with power. Well, I’m here to tell you that not all Baby Boomers are self-hating liars filled with contempt for their neighbors. Most of us are, but a significant minority of us do not fit the stereotype.

Kathy Sheehan is not a career politician, she entered politics later in her life after a private career because she was tired of the ridiculous mismanagement of the City of Albany by the old kleptocracy. These past four years she has totally reformed the Albany Treasurer’s office into a profitable enterprise without mass layoffs in the department. Her rapid reforms of the Treasurer’s office were her own initiative, they did not come from some Old Boy shadow government chain of command.

It is precisely Ms. Sheehan’s refusal to obey or even acknowledge that Old Boy chain of command that identifies her as not a typical Baby Boomer. This venerable chain of command, which goes back unbroken to the 1920s, is a shadow government that manipulates the City elected government and despises the Albany voters. As anyone who wants to look can observe, over the years that shadow government has systematically transformed Albany from a vital hub into a bankrupt backwater.

Historical Marker On South Pearl Street Historical Marker On South Pearl Street

As of January 1st the 80 year old shadow government will simply disappear from City Hall. Little pieces of it will linger in certain wards, most notably way uptown in the 15th ward which is still completely controlled by the Commissos. But I don’t see another oppressive kleptocracy seizing control of the entire City in the foreseeable future, the potential for such a coup is no longer there.

One central criticism of Ms. Sheehan has emerged, originating from several directions. There is a suspicion of her background as an executive in a small medical corporation (Intermagnetics in Colonie) that her administrative skills, which were so successful in a corporation, will be disastrous when applied to City government. At least, that appears to be the thought, I don‘t hear it expressed that clearly. Mostly I hear something more like, “She worked for a corporation, she must be bad.”

I have two things to say to that. First, the political success of corporations these last thirty years has been due to their ability to capture resources and exploit talented persons such as Ms. Sheehan. But corporations are doomed to failure because they are merely money collecting operations, for example the corporation Ms. Sheehan worked so hard to revive was simply eaten by a bigger corporation. Ms. Sheehan has been careful to say nothing about that one way or the other, but I would guess it was disappointing for her to see all her work destroyed like that.

Magnetic Coil (Right) For Medical Imaging Made By Intermagnetics Magnetic Coil (Right) For Medical Imaging Made By Intermagnetics

The vast majority of administrative talent among the Baby Boomers has mostly gone to the corporations, that is where the career advancements and good salaries have been. Government hasn’t been attracting the talent, that’s for sure. Certainly not Albany. Here we have with Kathy Sheehan some of that top talent that’s been wasted on enriching corporations. Instead, why don’t we let some of that administrative talent reform our elected government.

Second, from what I’ve seen and heard Kathy Sheehan is deeply concerned about the stagnant disordered condition of the City of Albany, and she feels that if she has the ability to put it right then she has an obligation to try to do so. That’s why she’s running for mayor. That is certainly not the thinking of a career politician, that’s more in line with the attitude of neighborhood activists I’ve known. And yes, as hard as it might be for some people to believe, she is a Baby Boomer who cares about more than just herself.

But please understand that all this praise does not mean that I think that Mayor Kathy Sheehan will be making all the right decisions all the time. I for one will be cutting her a lot of slack as she gets accustomed to her new job, but only to a point. If she shows any signs of ignoring the will of the voters then as far as I’m concerned the honeymoon will be over big time.

One detail emerged back in July that is filling me with alarm. From several candidate forums it became clear that neither Ms. Sheehan nor Mr. Ellis are opposed to burning Albany’s garbage. Seriously. They both appear to consider incinerating waste, thus turning recyclable materials into air pollution and generating unusable toxic ash that will probably be dumped onto the Pine Bush, is a viable option to consider for Albany’s future.

On Top Of The Rapp Road Dump On Top Of The Rapp Road Dump

I know Ms. Sheehan looks at the garbage issue primarily as a money matter, perhaps she is thinking that if burning garbage is most cost effective for the City than it ought to be considered. I can tell you that if the coming Sheehan administration wants to incinerate all those recyclables that I now so carefully separate then I will be totally on the warpath. And I will not be fighting alone.

One more thing about incineration. Earlier this year I cornered Ms. Sheehan and asked her about the latest incineration plant proposal for the Hudson riverfront (which is currently supposed to be sited on the Rensselaer side across from the South End.) I asked her about the possibility that the Rapp Road “Landfill” in the Pine Bush will be mined to feed this incinerator. After all, state-of-the-art incinerators cost almost as much as nuke plants and have insatiable appetites, and all that food has to come from somewhere to justify their enormous cost.

Ms. Sheehan’s reply to what I admit was a leading question was interesting. “I don’t see that happening,” she told me. “Mining the Rapp Road Dump will create more environmental problems than it would solve.” The more I think about that, the more I realize what a precisely specific non-specific answer that was. Whatever Ms. Sheehan’s background, it looks like she has the practiced political skills to be an effective mayor.

First Ward

Because of the last census adjustments The Wife and I have been surgically removed from the 1st Ward, which is annoying. I mean, the neighbors across the street from us are still in the 1st. And the neighbors diagonally across our intersection are in the 7th. It is easy to see that the redistricting committee was committed to tearing my neighborhood to little pieces.

Since this decision to butcher my neighborhood was made long before Jerry Jennings decided to quit, I can only assume that the original idea was to remove two of Dominick Calsolaro’s biggest supporters from his ward. After closely observing some of the outrageous political machinations after the 2000 census, I am very aware that redistricting in Albany is a very dirty process. So unless proven otherwise, we can assume that the 2010 census redistricting process was designed to divide neighborhoods.

Dorcey Applyrs And Her "Loving Husband Don" Dorcey Applyrs And Her "Loving Husband Don"

But as I’ve reported earlier this year, Dominick is retiring at the end of the year and is strongly supporting political newcomer Dorcey Applyrs to take his Common Council seat. Ms. Applyrs has a strong public health background which she has worked to apply to the community, particularly with our youth. Dominick has said that he is confident leaving his seat to her, that is some serious substantial praise.

Ms. Applyrs puts two items out front, the first is public health, which is the focus of her training and background. Specifically she is calling for "promoting the use of public parks, promoting health and nutrition, organizing ward-wide health events, and supporting SNUG legislation to decrease gun violence." As a legislator she intends to "support initiatives and legislation to improve the overall health status of residents in the First Ward."

The other main item is actually a logical extension of public health, she favors economic development by promoting local small businesses. Toward this end she says "I will work with businesses to develop strategies to increase and sustain consumer purchasing; assess the economic development needs of residents; promote workforce development; and support legislation that will provide tax incentives for first time homeowners." When you see such specifics laid out on a campaign site then you know the candidate is ready to start working on day one.

Andres Rivera (With Regina Goodbee) Announces His Candidacy In April Andres Rivera (With Regina Goodbee) Announces His Candidacy In April

Of course, with a wide open seat, Ms. Applyrs is facing no less than two challengers. The more substantial of the two is a fellow named Andres Rivera Jr, a former addiction counselor who works as part of the staff of longtime Assemblyman Felix Ortiz. Following the lead of Mr. Ortiz, who also appears to be his mentor, Mr. Rivera is also executive director of Somos el Futuro, a lobbying group that promotes the interests of Puerto Rican and Hispanic interests in the state.

Mr. Rivera came to Albany in 2005 from The Bronx, currently he lives on Corlear Street not far from Second Avenue. It is certainly good to see a representative of the up and coming Hispanic community vying for office, even though that community has not yet demonstrated a substantial presence in City elections so far. That will change in coming years, particularly in the South End where we are seeing more Hispanic people who are taking advantage of the housing opportunities here to settle.

From his associations I’m seeing that Mr. Rivera was probably recruited to run by Jerry Jennings before His Majesty made His decision at the end of May to not run for reelection. To lose a powerful sponsor like that is a blow that does not seem to have deterred Mr. Rivera. On the other hand, having sought out Jennings as a sponsor calls into question his ability to fairly represent the constituents of the First Ward.

Albany Observer reported by tweet that Mr. Rivera was caught collecting signatures for his qualifying petitions several days early. Assuming that’s true, this is a very bad demonstration of his personal integrity. As a legislative aide Mr. Rivera knows better, for him collecting signatures early would not be an error but would be a deliberate flouting of the law.

Scott Mannarino Scott Mannarino

The third candidate is Jennings’ choice from four years ago, the laughable Scott Mannarino, whose qualifying petitions this year were originally tossed out because, among other things, he spelled his own name wrong. But Mannarino hired a lawyer who somehow persuaded a judge to force the board of elections to accept those sad petitions. His lawyer was none other than the notorious drunken wife-beater and virulent anti-voting activist John Sweeney, who BTW used to be a Republican congressman. All I can say is Mannarino will be known by the people with whom he associates.

Oh BTW, Andres Rivera is the candidate endorsed by the completely out of touch 1st Ward Democratic Committee, the same committee run by Ward leader Regina Goodbee that endorsed Mannarino in 2009. As far as I know, Ms. Applyrs and Mr. Calsolaro didn’t even ask the Committee for an endorsement. Why bother and who cares anymore?

Second Ward

The Wife and I now reside in the 2nd Ward, which is represented on the Common Council by the notorious Jennings minion and all-round embarrassment Lester Freeman. He is being challenged by Vivian Kornegay, who is one of the founders (along with Willie White) of the South End advocacy organization AVillage, and is also deeply involved with the SNUG anti-violence program.

First, let’s talk about the incumbent. Lester Freeman does not believe that the City government should provide services in return for our taxes. During his four years on the Council, he has called for the closure of the Albany Public Library system including the closure of Howe Library, opposed a resolution supporting a restriction on the sale of automatic weapon magazines, and earlier this year vehemently opposed a measure demanding that the Albany Convention Authority pay the City some half a million in back taxes that it has neglected to pay.

Lester Freeman Talks While Carolyn McLaughlin Listens Lester Freeman Talks While Carolyn McLaughlin Listens

And Lester does not like public community centers in his Ward. Most notoriously, Lester’s greatest accomplishment during his four years in office has been to help force the closure of Bathhouse #2, the South End’s venerable indoor swimming pool. It is no exaggeration to say that Jennings could not have pulled off this closure without Lester. It was because of Lester that the Common Council was one vote short of overriding His Majesty’s veto of funding the bathhouse. Thanks a lot Lester.

Lester Freeman shamelessly panders to power. Apparently this is because he has grandiose visions of a shining career in politics. Witness his 2011 run for Albany County legislature and his insistence that he could serve both bodies at the same time with no conflict of interest. And let’s not forget his short but splashy pretend run for US Congress, during which he declared himself to be a “conservative,” whatever that is.

I’m told that Lester has the highest absentee rate on the Common Council. Indeed, early on I discovered for myself that during moments of crisis he disappears, he can’t be contacted by phone, email or even by banging on his door. This is one Common Council member who is never there for his constituents, apparently because he doesn’t give a damn about the problems of the South End.

Vivian Kornegay (With Carolyn McLaughlin And Willie White) Announces Her Run In Front Of The  Ruins Of Bathhouse #2 Vivian Kornegay (With Carolyn McLaughlin And Willie White) Announces Her Run In Front Of The
Ruins Of Bathhouse #2

Vivian Kornegay is soft spoken, she doesn’t have a voice for stump speeches and you often have to listen carefully to catch her words. However, she is the kind of person that you find yourself wanting to catch all the words. The more you listen to this 52 year old woman the more you realize that she’s on top of the community issues and has a good idea what needs to be done about them.

Shortly after Ms. Kornegay announced her run for the Common Council in April, The Wife and I invited her to our house for a chat. We only had an hour together so we couldn’t go into too much detail. But both of us were impressed not just with her general grasp of the issues but with the firmness of her convictions.

As an outreach coordinator for SNUG, her job has been to knock on doors and coax people into coming out of their houses immediately following a violent incident in their neighborhood. The purpose of doing this, which has proven amazingly effective both here and in big Cities like Chicago, is to encourage people to overcome the fear and isolation that allows criminals to thrive on the streets. But encouraging people to come outside also makes the politicians feel threatened, which is why they don’t really like SNUG and keep trying to defund the organization.

That was our main impression, that her work with SNUG and with AVillage has been all about organizing community members to confront the issues and confront the policymakers. And this, she told us, is why she is looking to hold elected office, so she can do this sort of work more effectively.

Sure, we hear career politicians talk that talk all the time but from them it’s just talk, community involvement is the last thing they want to see. But Ms. Kornegay is not a politician, nor is she looking for a powerful political sponsor. She is someone who is coming into politics late in life because she wants to fix problems in her community, just like Dominick Calsolaro and Kathy Sheehan did.

Vivian Kornegay In Front Of Bathhouse #2 Vivian Kornegay In Front Of Bathhouse #2

The downside to Ms. Kornegay, a big problem, is that even though she has worked for many years on social issues in the South End she currently does not live in the 2nd Ward. When I asked her about this, to my amazement she told me that she doesn’t see that as a problem. By law, she told me, “I have until January to find a place to reside in the district.”

That’s the sort of thing you hear from someone who has never run for office. Although she has gotten a lot of help and support, including an enthusiastic endorsement from Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin, Ms. Kornegay has been hobbled by her lack of campaigning experience. I think her lack of residency in the Ward has muted some of her expected support, I know I have strong reservations about this matter.

But much of her support comes from a general desire to pry Lester Freeman out of the Common Council seat. Unlike Lester, Ms. Kornegay has a solid, independent personality and is accustomed to working to solve the problems faced by the citizens of the 2nd Ward. Willie White, who has known her for 35 years, says, “Vivian is someone who does what she says she is going to do.” That alone makes her a much better choice than the incumbent.

Third Ward

Ron Bailey is far and away the biggest political force in the 3rd Ward, which covers the north end of downtown and the north side of Central Avenue. He is the Common Council member and the Ward leader and a Democratic Committee member, you could pretty much say that he is the Democratic Party in the 3rd. He got his start in 3rd Ward politics by inheritance, he took over his mother’s Committee seat when she fell ill.

Mr. Bailey has always been a loyal Party functionary, which means that for the four years that he has been in office he has always followed Jerry Jennings. Back in 2009 when over in my part of town the 1st Ward defied Jennings and the Party to endorse the re-election of Dominick Calsolaro, it was Ron Bailey who was sent to the 1st to oversee a less than proper revote of the endorsement. As a result the official 1st Ward Committee endorsement was switched from the popular two term incumbent to the pathetic Scott Mannarino.

Ron Bailey Ron Bailey

This is why the once powerful Democratic Committee has become irrelevant in many parts of the City. But in the 3rd Ward Mr. Bailey is the Committee, and thus he personally controls the electoral resources that are available for the official candidate. That by itself makes it very difficult for a challenger.

One good thing I will say about Mr. Bailey is that he has worked to connect with the growing Muslim community which is partly in his Ward. Populated along both sides of lower Central Avenue, the Albany Muslims are a hodgepodge of poor and working class folks from countries around the world. The Wife was delighted to see him come out for some of her rallies in support of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hussein, and he has developed a relationship with the Masjid As-Salam, the storefront mosque on Central Avenue.

Back in 2009, the 3rd Ward Common Council seat was wide open after being vacated by Corey Ellis, who was running for mayor. Ron Bailey and Lisa Feaster fought for the seat, but Mr. Bailey turned out to have the greater experience at political maneuvering. The big moment was at the end of petitioning in July, when Mr. Bailey pulled a very impressive media coup that left Ms. Feaster dangling.

In 2009, with two days left to gather signatures, Mr. Bailey announced that someone had smashed a window of his car and stolen his qualifying petitions, and he heavily implied that Ms. Feaster was responsible. The corporate media, which apparently didn’t like Ms. Feaster’s progressive stand on the issues, loudly repeated Mr. Bailey’s baseless accusation. Ms. Feaster responded with a series of incoherent sputters and duhs, which the corporate media easily parlayed into a virtual admission of guilt.

Lisa Feaster attempted to repeat her run this year, but it seems that Ron Bailey challenged her qualifying petitions and knocked her off the ballot over some minor procedural technicalities. It seems that she still does not know how to find her way around the incumbent. So it looks like four more years of Ron Bailey, I wonder who he will follow when Jennings is gone.


The Wife pointed out that maybe Lisa Feaster ought to have hired Scott Mannarino’s lawyer John Sweeney. She figures that if that drunken wife-beating Republican could get the board of elections to accept petitions from a guy who can’t even spell his own name then surely he could have gotten Ms. Feaster on the ballot.

Fourth Ward

Barbara Smith, the respectable college professor, is stepping down after two terms. This past spring I asked her if she was planning to run for another office. She turned to me with an agitated expression and almost shouted, “No! I’m not going through all that again!” Well, like the rest of us, she’s not getting any younger.

Ms. Smith has enthusiastically endorsed an Albany police officer, Kelly Kimbrough. I was amazed to learn of the existence of an Albany cop who not only lives in the City of Albany, but lives in Arbor Hill and sends his four kids to the Albany public schools. In addition, as the Community Services Officer for some 11 years he gained the respect of the community, this in a part of town where respect for the police is small to nonexistent.

Mr. Kimbrough’s approach to public office is a police officer’s, he is concerned with public safety which, to be sure, is major concern for the 4th Ward. In addition to looking to expand after school sports and cultural activities for the kids, he is looking toward “making our streets safer for students to walk to and from school.” He’s been involved with planning National Night Out in Albany, is a vice chair of the Police Athletic League, created a neighborhood watch in the 4th Ward and is a board member of Trinity Alliance.

Kelly Kimbrough Hugs Barbara Smith Kelly Kimbrough Hugs Barbara Smith

I have little to argue with there. Ms. Smith has been deeply involved with all sorts of public health and civil rights issues in the 4th and beyond, but she has always approached these things with an academic detachment. Mr. Kimbrough is clearly a down to earth hands dirty kind of guy, concerned with many of the same issues but from a totally different direction. We will probably get to see the effectiveness of his approach.

Mr. Kimbrough is opposed by Democratic Ward leader Clifton Dixon, who isn’t running much of a campaign. On August 26 he posted a graphic on his Facebook page, “Don’t Quit” with the letters “Do” and “it” emphasized. But a candidate who who even alludes to quitting a few weeks before election day is clearly already lost. Please note the irrelevancy of the Committee in this Ward.

Fifth Ward

Jackie Jenkins-Cox is the incumbent for the Common Council seat serving her first term. Like so many City of Albany public office holders she works for a downstate politician, as a director of operations for a State senator. Before that she was a longtime City Hall employee, eventually moving on to the Water Department and a two year term on the school board.

Jackie Jenkins-Cox Jackie Jenkins-Cox

Perhaps because she worked in City Hall for so long she has not been confrontational in her role as representative. Rather her emphasis has been with “building relationships and communication with City Hall” and other City departments. Admittedly there is much merit to “educating homeowners” and building bridges, and her personal emphasis has always been on opportunities for the kids and early education.

A burly guy named Sam Coleman is challenging her, he is a neighborhood activist who is endorsed by the Robert F. Kennedy Club. He’s the president of the the West End Neighborhood Association, involved with the Arbor Hill Development Corporation and is a member of the Democratic Committee. I’m delighted to report that Mr. Coleman is a truck driver, someone who actually works for a living. If I lived in the 5th I’d probably vote for him simply for that reason.

A third candidate is a former druglord who was given early release from prison, Mark Robinson. Some of us can’t forget the Robinson Family crackhouse on Elizabeth Street, and how the Albany police refused to shut it down, effectively protecting the operation (that is, until neighborhood activists brought in the State.) Robinson has been very visible lately and is a supporter of Corey Ellis for mayor.

Sixth Ward

Richard Conti is well-liked by his constituents and is not being challenged in the Primary. That is not to say that he does not have some issues. But as far as his Center Square constituents are concerned, his advocacy for the things that affect them the most, such as the parking permit plan which was finally instituted this year, keep them plenty satisfied with his performance in office.

Seventh Ward

Cathy Fahey is going for her third term for Common Council. She is well known in the lively and economically vibrant Delaware neighborhood, regularly connected with the Delaware Neighborhood Association and the Delaware Avenue Merchant’s Association. When there is a special meeting in the neighborhood or a planning or a zoning hearing of any interest to her constituents, she is likely to be right there in front listening carefully.

Four years ago Ms. Fahey seemed to be hesitant about running again, it seemed she wasn’t sure if she wanted to put in the time required for the job. Of course the Common Council is more than a part time job, particularly in her neighborhood it’s a vocation that eats up evenings and Saturdays with meeting and greeting and meeting again. Personally I couldn’t put up with it night after night, but then I’m quite antisocial.

Cathy Fahey At The ML King Statue In January (With Pat Fahy) Cathy Fahey At The ML King Statue In January (With Pat Fahy)

It seems that this time Ms. Fahey is very much into it, perhaps she has grown accustomed to her role as representative. Possibly her day job working for newly elected Assembly member Pat Fahy (no relation!) has energized her enough to believe once again that holding public office can make a difference. In any case her constituents seem very pleased with her visibility and advocacy, that is what counts.

My only problem with Ms. Fahey is her stubborn insistence on supporting the practice of importing garbage to dump onto the Rapp Road “Landfill” in the Pine Bush. No amount of arguing or explaining will get her to acknowledge that there is something very wrong with that failed business model and that it needs to be reconfigured. After Kathy Sheehan takes over the mayor’s office there will be major changes in Garbage Policy, it will be interesting to see how Ms. Fahey reconfigures her stance.

Her opponent, Tim Carney, rang my doorbell one day when I was home, even though my house is not in the 7th Ward. He was accompanied by none other than Lester Freeman, who, as soon as I answered the door, realized their error and developed a painful look on his face. But to be fair, it was an easy mistake to make, the 2010 census redistricting committee was careful to divide the street I live on into three different Wards, one of which happens to be the 7th. Mr. Carney gave me campaign literature anyway.

Mr. Carney seems to be running an old fashioned campaign, heavy on lawn signs and ringing doorbells, probably the only candidate without a Facebook page. About the only clear position from him that I’ve been able to find is a criticism of the incumbent’s financial disclosure form, which is about as interesting to the average voter as last year’s bus schedule. In any case, Mr. Carney has a hard hill to climb if he wants to defeat Ms. Fahey.

Eighth Ward

John Rosenzweig is quitting, it’s unlikely that anyone will miss him. Probably his most notable moment was when Albany Community Television (ACT) started following around Council members with a $99 camera and posting the videos. At the next opportunity Rosenzweig angrily introduced a motion to outlaw filming at Common Council meetings, that was quietly shelved in committee before it garnered too much attention. (That was also the beginning of Albany cable TV access, over which the politicians have some control.)

The 8th Ward is important, in 2009 it produced 1997 votes for the Democratic Primary, more than any other ward. This was originally the home of Jerry Jennings before He became mayor and moved His residence to the City line at the end of New Scotland Avenue. The 8th is also where Kathy Sheehan lives, presumably she will continue to live there after January.

Jack Flynn and Leonard Ricchiuti Jack Flynn and Leonard Ricchiuti

Jack Flynn is a deputy Ward leader and of course is endorsed by the Committee. He works as an “election education specialist” at the Albany County Board of Elections, which immediately makes me wonder about conflict of interest. I would be glad to tell you all about him if I could, but other than his associations with the Party there’s nothing that I can find.

Lenny Ricchiuti, you may recall, is a retired Albany police sergeant who lost a bizarre campaign in 2009 against Carolyn McLaughlin for Common Council president. The biggest criticism he received during that race was that he could count on one hand how many times he’d even set foot in the Council chambers, with fingers to spare. I guess the executive director of Albany PAL has taken that criticism to heart and decided that he ought to get some experience as a member of the Council before he presumes to lead it.

In short, the Ward with the most Primary voters has some of the least notable Common Council candidates. At least it’s a race and not a virtual appointment. Again, it should be interesting which politician or political boss or corporation the winner of this race decides to follow. I’m guessing that neither will be following the will of the people.

Ninth Ward

James Sano had been dropping hints that he might not run again, but there he was petitioning like he was planning to run forever. But exactly three days before the end of the petitioning period I received an email from former school board member Judy Doesschate that Mr. Sano had suddenly announced that he was quitting, and that she needed help to gather signatures, like really fast.

Why Mr. Sano did this has been a matter of speculation. If he wanted a wide open battle for his seat he should have announced that he would quit before petitioning, if he wanted a successor appointed by the Committee then he should have waited to announce after the petitioning period was closed. One theory was that he was planning to drop out later so that former Albany cop James Miller could be appointed, but Miller lives in the suburbs and probably decided he didn’t want to move to Albany. But who knows.

Judy Doesschate Outside Her House Judy Doesschate Outside Her House

Well, somehow Judy Doesschate managed to collect enough signatures in three days to get on the ballot. Of course her petitions were accepted, I’m sure her husband, City Court judge Tom Keefe, sat down and proofread the petitions before she submitted them. Back in the day before Judge Keefe was a judge he was the go-to guy for petitioning law and petitioning procedure for progressive campaigns. It wasn’t likely that he would allow his wife to submit a petition without a signature or a number or whatever.

Back when she served on the school board, for a while as president, Ms. Doesschate was a fierce defender of public education against degradations by the Jennings administration and the siphoning of tax monies by the so-called “Charter” schools. I’ve known Ms. Doesschate for almost three decades, she has always impressed me as strong willed and independent. A lawyer by profession, she is also a bit of a geek when it comes to policy details, I’ve always known her to be well informed.

But also a fellow named Terrence Ward managed to gather enough signatures in those three days, so despite the procedural silliness by Mr. Sano we have a race. I see Mr. Ward grew up in Albany, was a school basketball player, and he works for the State legislature. A couple of years ago he and his family were part of a Hearst Times Union series “Healthy Challenge,” where the corporate newspaper follows three families and monitors how well they meet a series of “fitness goals.”

From His Facebook Page, Terrence Ward With Jerry Jennings From His Facebook Page, Terrence Ward With Jerry Jennings

That’s about all I can tell you about him. But on Mr. Ward’s Facebook page I see he is heavily supported by Jerry Jennings. Well, as far as I’m concerned, that makes him poisonous.

Here in the 9th for one more time, probably the last time, we have a Primary contest between a Progressive and a Jennings Minion. Politics in this City used to be simple, you were either one of us or one of them. I wonder what I’m going to write about now that the Old Boy machine era is about to end.

Tenth Ward

Probably the number one issue for first term incumbent Leah Golby is pedestrian and bicycle safety. This focus leads directly into planning and public safety issues, and sure enough a quick glance over her Facebook page confirms her deep interest in these subjects. This is particularly relevant to the 10th Ward, which is a mixture of established residential neighborhoods and student ghetto encompassing Pine Hills on both sides of upper Madison Avenue along with parts of Park South, and is undergoing major changes.

Ms. Golby takes her job seriously, keeping in touch with the neighborhood and working to solve problems. Her downside is that she can be rather cold and standoffish. And as I discovered, she can be quite judgmental of people without taking time to assess the agendas of the persons who are feeding her rumors. Still, if she is available and working for her constituents then that’s all that matters.

Leah Golby And Owusu Anane Leah Golby And Owusu Anane

Owuse Anane is a 24 year old University of Albany graduate, and is the vice chair of the NY State Young Democrats of Color. He was born and raised in Brooklyn and his parents are immigrants from Ghana. He admires Corey Ellis, recently saying about the mayoral candidate, “You hear his story and it inspires you do to more.”

Mr. Anane appears to be articulate and personable. He meets the incumbent on transportation issues, saying things like “Our neighborhood is at the forefront of promoting alternative transportation in this City, and I believe we can go further.” He is much concerned about the vacant housing crisis, calling for “incentives for responsible landlords” and looking for “unorthodox community-based solutions to the problem of abandoned homes.” Unfortunately, he is not very specific about what these solutions might be.

So we have two candidates, both calling for a “walkable, bikeable community” in the 10th Ward. This is very encouraging. We see the influence of the strong neighborhood associations on the politics of the ward, the politicians are by necessity responsive to the needs and wants of the residents. The bad old dictatorial politics of the 20th century are disappearing, may they never return to our neighborhoods.

Eleventh Ward

In 2009 Anton Konev prevailed in a four way race after his main challenger, Luke Gucker, received a well publicized smackdown from Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, who loudly accused Mr. Gucker of being unpatriotic. After that Mr. Konev, a native of Russia who arrived in the United States when he was 15, cruised to a solid win. I’ve been told that Mr. Konev was also helped by the presence of a Russian immigrant community in his Ward.

Anton Konev Anton Konev

Mr. Konev has certainly made his presence known on the Common Council. Over the last four years I’ve heard some of his colleagues describe him as grandstanding, looking for attention at any cost, a disruptor, an obstructor, and I’ve even heard them call him crazy. In the past I’ve written that I thought he was quite sane, but I’m forced to admit that he is too much wrapped up in himself… which really is the definition of crazy.

I’m not overly concerned with his call for prayers to be recited before every Common Council meeting, that’s one of those subtle things that betray a lack of understanding of American values that one expects from televangelists and Republican politicians. I am more bothered by his constant call to reduce the size of the Common Council, thus reducing voter participation. While such a position probably plays well with bigger politicians and power brokers, it seems to indicate that Mr. Konev wants to isolate the government from the people. In other words, he has corporatist tendencies.

Judd Krasher Judd Krasher

Judd Krasher is the challenger. He was Leah Golby’s campaign manager for her successful 2009 race, and since then has participated in a number of progressive campaigns. He is a neighborhood activist, a member of the Democratic Committee, and a member of the Albany County Young Democrats. In 2012 the Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club gave him their Next Generation Progressive of the Year award.

Mr. Krasher, who is in his mid-twenties, wants to “make Albany a 21st century City.” The way to do this, he tells us, is by renewing the neighborhoods and making them “safe and walkable.” He is concerned with the burden of taxes, but the way to raise revenues is to expand the tax base by attracting new businesses and dealing with the vacant building crisis, not by constantly raising taxes like Jerry Jennings has.

A couple of interesting details, both candidates work as legislative staffers. And both were redistricted out of the ward, but of course both plan to move back in before January.

Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Wards

Michael O’Brien, Dan Herring and Joe Igoe are so totally entrenched in these uptown Wards that nobody wants to challenge them. Except that Herring and Igoe are facing challenges in November from Republicans, which is a minor party that I understand is popular in places like Alabama and North Korea. Basically, the Uptown Mafia is intact and these guys are getting a free ride. Again. Wonder who will lead them after January 1st?

Fifteenth Ward

Frank Commisso Jr. owes his seat to Dad, who is the boss of the Albany County Legislature and operates a 15th Ward political machine that has always been independent of downtown Albany. No one living in that Ward who is in their right mind is going to challenge that machine, so Mr. Commisso also gets a free ride.

Frank Commisso Jr. Frank Commisso Jr.

But as his Dad once told me, “the kid has a mind of his own.” The Wife has been talking to Mr. Commisso Jr. lately, it seems that he understands civil liberties issues and is much concerned about the NSA scandal spying on Americans and the breakdown of the justice system which has become an acute crisis on the federal level. Mr. Commisso is a smart guy and may have learned from his defeat in his recent campaign for the State Legislature. I still say he is a guy to watch.

Common Council President

Carolyn McLaughlin seems to have settled into the job, the other Council members treat her with respect and she runs a tight ship. Her challenger is John Marsalais, who most everybody liked when he was City Clerk. I don’t see him mounting a strong challenge, it looks like Ms. Mclaughlin is a shoo-in for reelection.


I’ve written about this race back in June, here it is again:

Darius Shahinfar has yet to hold public office, but has worked in various levels of government in his career. He recently told Metroland that the City needs “a technological overhaul,” and about the City’s financial crisis he said “We can’t tax our way out of it, we can’t just make spending cuts to get out of it. We’ve got to bring in new business.” On the downside he seems enamored of the idea of combining and thus eliminating police departments and school districts, which makes sense to a bookkeeper but these days tends to repel voters who are tired of having local access to services eliminated in the name of cost cutting.

Gary Domalewicz’ official biography on the Albany County Legislature site is full of startling negatives, sponsoring legislation “imposing residency restrictions,” “approving GPS tracking” “initiated a law requiring fingerprint and background checks” “eliminating parole” ”outlawing body piercing for minors” “mandatory testing” and “requiring price posting.”. This is not to say that a few of these are not useful or necessary restrictions, but I can’t help but notice the dominant tendency toward curtailing rights in his legislative career. I don’t see much building or improvement, just restrictions.