Albany councilmember on mission to change face of politics

February 11, 2017 09:21 AM

Sometimes to fulfill our destiny, we have to take the long way home. That's the story of a local woman and she's bringing other young women with her.

When Dorcey Applyrs came to Albany, she thought it was for a specific reason, earn a Ph.D., so she could advocate and help others.

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"Working in the field of HIV, you're advocating for some of the most marginalized groups," she explained.

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Soon, it became clear that helping make policy was the way to bring about real change. A fellowship lit the spark in her.

"It was really my first exposure to women in elected office -- the challenges, the rewards," noted Applyrs.

Applyrs grew up blocks from Washington D.C., but no one had ever exposed her to politics and there were few women of color in office to mimic.

"It took moving to New York and in particular the seat of government in New York State for me to go in this line of work and just really being exposed to women who look like me," explained Applyrs.

However, campaigning wasn't easy. Some literally slammed the door in her face. Others questioned her ability because of her stature, wondering if she was tough enough because she was young. It turns out it would be young women who would embrace her.

"When I mentioned that I was running for office and that I was seeking volunteers, I had a line," recalled Applyrs.

They saw something in her.

"If you have a vision they will embrace that vision," she assured.

She was reminded of those young women whenever she would question why she was running.

"That tipped the scale for me," Applyrs admitted.

In 2014, she was elected as an Albany councilmember for the 1st Ward. She's since tackled tough issues from gun violence to the controversial oil trains. However, helping change the face of Albany politics remains a positive for her.

There are free campaign schools you can go to if you are thinking about running for office.

More information:

Eleanor’s Legacy

Citizen Action NY


WNYT Staff

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