Posted at: 10/21/2013 11:39 PM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - Because there is no heir apparent to Jerry Jennings, Albany's mayoral field, for the first time in a generation, was wide open this year, and city residents were anxious to hear what the over-sized field of candidates had to say on Monday night, fifteen days before the general election.
In a city where the fastest growing segment of the population is Latino, the Hispanic Coalition of New York especially wanted to hear candidates share their views on a wide range of issues that are relevant to the minority community.
Even though long gone are the days of ironclad democratic machine rule, three out of six candidates still in the running to become Albany's next mayor are democrats. Marlon Anderson is an independent democratic write-in candidate seeking true diversity in government.
"We have a common council now that is ethnically diverse to a point," Anderson asserts, "But when it comes to representing ethnic interests, their voices are not heard. That is the problem in the city of Albany."
Valerie Faust is also an independent democrat hoping for write-in votes. She's interested in hiring qualified minorities for city jobs.
"You can not do a good job of providing services and providing the things that communities need when you don't have a representation of the community," Faust says.
Theresa Portelli is a Green Party candidate, who'd love to keep college students in the community after they graduate.
"I see people who want to live here," Portelli says, "But the taxes are too high."
Joe Sullivan represents the Conservative Party.
"We're all Americans," Sullivan begins, "And we've got to start thinking like Americans because this diversity business: diversity divides when you make it political."
Jesse Calhoun, a pre-school teacher and a musician, is the Republican candidate who'd also like to retain young people in the community.
"Lower the cost of permitting, make it easier for small businesses, and make it easier for the night life to thrive here," Calhoun suggests, "That'll attract college students."
Kathy Sheehan, the current city treasurer, who won the democratic primary last month, would love to initiate a service learning program aimed at young people.
"It can help us with two problems," Sheehan says, "One: city government is too expensive for residents who are here, and two, to engage college youth, who see Albany as a playground but not as a place they care about to stay and live and invest in."
The winner of the November 5th general election will become only the fourth Albany mayor in the last 72 years.