Carolyn McLaughlin is running for Albany mayor

Carolyn McLaughlin Albany mayoral race announce

Common Council president Carolyn McLaughlin officially announced Saturday morning that she's running for mayor of Albany.

From her announcement speech at the Albany Colosseum building on South Pearl Street:

We know it's not about us as an individual, but it's about what we as a community can do to make this city of Albany that ultimate community for which we all can be proud to say that we live in, that we work in, and that we play in. We know that this can be the kind of city that recognizes that you can't be about one neighborhood, but it's about all neighborhoods.

McLaughlin, a Democrat, was first elected to the Common Council in 1997, representing the 2nd Ward, which includes the South End. She won the Common Council presidency in 2009. (She was also chair of the Albany County Democratic Committee for two years until losing out in a party election this past September in what was seen as part of the build up to the mayoral race.)

McLaughlin is the first candidate to officially announce she's in the pool for mayor. She will presumably face incumbent Democratic mayor Kathy Sheehan in the party's primary this September (and perhaps one other person?). The Democratic primary has historically been the de facto election for the office because of the party's overwhelming enrollment advantage in the city.

If elected, McLaughlin would be the first African-American mayor of Albany.

Here's video of McLaughlin's announcement speech, along with another clip of her talking about her personal and professional history...

Announcement speech

Personal and professional history

Comments

2017 is going to be an interesting year in Albany for sure.

Traditionally, Albany mayors leave office via death or retirement. it's been a few years (OK, more than 100) since an incumbent mayor was defeated at the polls.

And right there you have the fundamental problem of Albany.

McLaughlin has about a zero chance of winning, which is too bad in a way. She does not have a good resume for this job. No executive experience. She's never produced much.

On the other hand, you can say that about almost everyone who has ever been mayor of Albany. With the possible exception of Tom Whalen, Albany hasn't had a decent mayor in forever.

What McLaughlin will do is subtract a lot of the downtown ward votes from all other candidates. The math gets interesting here because then it's the so-called progressives, who aren't actually progressive at all, versus parts of Old Albany when McCoy-stooge Sheehan goes up against Commisso.

I can't think of a single thing Sheehan has done to merit re-election, but, this being Albany, that won't stop it from happening.


@Stan- While Jennings did retire, I think most will agree he would not have if not for Sheehan successfully organizing enough people to bash him and everything he did during his last year. Whether he was sure he'd lose or just didn't want to fight to keep the job, he was, in a sense, unseated.

The question now is, are the people who were convinced Sheehan would address their issues and were let down going to continue supporting her? Clearly a lot of people should be disappointed. Just look at posts and comments on AOA from four years ago. We had neighborhood groups expecting she would shut down bars completely, while at the same time people were claiming we needed Sheehan because Jennings was being too unfair to bar owners.
And what about the weirdos who were flooding every local blog with comments about how Albany needed to allow backyard chickens? The ringleaders got rewarded for their support of Sheehan in other ways, but there's been no push for chickens since then.I'd imagine there are at least a few people upset about this.

You're probably right though. In the end, the primary voters will probably keep the incumbent and the general election voters will just go for the Democrat. Putting thought into voting is just too hard. Then again, the (sort of) unseating of Jennings, makes me think things could be changing.

I'm voting for the ghost of Tom Whalen.

I like to think McLaughlin will do a much better job than Sheehan -- what exactly has Sheehan accomplished in four years? Albany's budget continues to be a MESS, we spent a ton a money on red light cameras for no reason, programs for low-income kids have been canceled, our schools need serious attention, and we can't afford basic governmental services like fire trucks or infrastructure maintenance. We need someone who will actually DO something to improve life in Albany... repair crumbling infrastructure, renovate dilapidated houses (or make it easier for private individuals to do so) so we can get them back on the tax rolls, support small businesses and people who would like to be small business owners, provide for our children and people who need help, and bring the community as a whole together! Councilmember McLaughlin, are you up to this challenge? If yes, you have my vote!

It amazes me that people still pin budgetary issues for old post-industrial upstate cities on individual mayors. This is a nationwide problem for all but the largest cities.

But it's depressing that issues like getting vacant or dilapidated properties back on the tax rolls or making it easier for small businesses to open are being addressed and no one even notices. Given that, exactly what incentive is there for any politician to do anything?

I'll give all the candidates a fair hearing, Sheehan included. But if we want to have any chance of fixing our problems, we really need to start acknowledging the progress we have made.

JayK, I'd sincerely love to hear your evidence that anything of significance has happened with Albany's vacant buildings. Really....if I am proved wrong I will gladly acknowledge my error. Because what i see is the same exact problem with no end in sight, and no serious solution being proposed.

"It amazes me that people still pin budgetary issues for old post-industrial upstate cities on individual mayors. This is a nationwide problem for all but the largest cities."

I think there's an element of truth here but a major error also.

It's true that many post-industrial cities have budget problems. But Albany is not post-industrial. Albany is never-industrial. if you want to see what post-industrial looks like, go to Troy, or Buffalo,or Youngstown,Ohio or Gary, Indiana.

Since 1945 most northeast cities have seen big population decreases, and have seen 'white flight' to suburbs even while the core cities must continue to provide services and infrastructure to those suburbs.

So in that sense I agree with you.

BUT: What has Sheehan (or any previous mayor - this isn't just her) done to address that problem?

Consider that Sheehan has filled more than 100 city jobs in here three or so years as Mayor. There's been no serious attempt to control costs. As an aside, although I do not consider Sheehan to be particularly corrupt, one of those jobs went to her puppermaster Dan McCoy's nephew. Nice deal eh?

Where I fundamentally disagree is that Albany's situation is NOT like other cities. We are unique in that we have the State capital here, which distorts our economy. Having state government here is great for the region. It is the whole reason we have a local economy at all. But while the region benefits, the city takes all the costs. No mayor has addressed that.

I will support whatever candidate has a plan to get the state and the suburbs to pay their fair share of what they sue up in Albany. That is the only real solution.

"....making it easier for small businesses to open are being addressed..."

I have yet to meet a small business owner who doesn't complain about how difficult it is to work with the city of Albany. The stories they tell are truly mind-boggling.

Stan, while I agree with some of that, I consider post-industrial to encompass most cities in the Northeast. Albany had a ton of manufacturing in its past, just like other state capitals and pretty much every northeastern city of any size. You can also consider them as cities that grew during the industrial age, as opposed to places like Atlanta and Phoenix.

"But while the region benefits, the city takes all the costs. No mayor has addressed that." You don't think this indicates that the problem is also larger than any one mayor?

"Consider that Sheehan has filled more than 100 city jobs in here three or so years as Mayor." A mayor hiring people is not a valid criticism.

".. one of those jobs went to her puppermaster Dan McCoy's nephew." This is.

"I have yet to meet a small business owner who doesn't complain about how difficult it is to work with the city of Albany. The stories they tell are truly mind-boggling." Which is why the city has spent money and years to rewrite its zoning laws. There were problems with the final product (that have been somewhat resolved), but the city is addressing what you describe.

"I will support whatever candidate has a plan to get the state and the suburbs to pay their fair share of what they sue up in Albany." In that case, I hope you enjoy whatever you do on Election Day instead of voting.

"JayK, I'd sincerely love to hear your evidence that anything of significance has happened with Albany's vacant buildings. Really....if I am proved wrong I will gladly acknowledge my error. Because what i see is the same exact problem with no end in sight, and no serious solution being proposed." Missed this, sorry. In the last few years the Land Bank was created, the Habitat for Humanity project on/around Sheridan was completed, empty lots have been and are being built on and anecdotally, I do see a buildings being renovated or that have been renovated throughout the city, including in poor neighborhoods. I consider this significant.

@JayK: Your initial post sounds a bit like you're suggesting that Sheehan's lack of accomplishments is our fault because we haven't patted her on the back for doing her job? I agree that being a post-industrial city has some impact on the budget, and of course Albany's mismanaged finances are not the result of Sheehan alone -- other mayors obviously had their hand in it. But Sheehan is mayor, and it's her problem now. The public does not serve the politician, the politician serves us -- why do we need to give Sheehan an "incentive" to do the job she signed up for? Is serving the community and earning $136k per year not an incentive enough? If she does, in fact, have meaningful accomplishments that the public should know about, by all means, as taxpayers, we do want to know about them. Unfortunately, most of her newsworthy mentions involve bungles and $12.5 million budget gaps that hinge on handouts from Gov. Cuomo.

And that's where @Stan makes a great point about Albany's economy -- NYS government operates here, but we mostly only see residual effects [e.g., money goes into service industries like bars, restaurants, hotels] and receive no direct support, despite the fact that NYS owns 40% of the land within the city free of taxes and the City is still expected to bear the burden of providing basic services. We need a mayor with the balls to demand the support we are due; we can't just have multi-million dollar budget gaps every year and shrug our shoulders over it. (And I also disagree with your response to @Stan's point about Sheehan's hiring spree -- hiring 100 people when you can't balance a budget by such a wide margin is totally a valid criticism, especially when they are non-essential / nepotism hires.)

As far as addressing vacant buildings, Albany has over 1,000 properties listed on its vacant property rolls (and those are just the ones they've identified) -- these are not just a few run-down houses, this is urban blight. Anecdotes about renovations don't mean anything in that context, and the creation of the Land Bank is a good start, but (i) the Land Bank is a county entity, so no credit to Sheehan there, and (ii) assuming Sheehan does have her hand in the Land Bank, the Land Bank has to actually act on the properties (but it won't, because the County/City doesn't have the funds or desire to acquire them).

Don't get me wrong -- running Albany must come with some unique difficulties. No one expects that its multitude of problems will be completely resolved in four short years. But when a politician asks for our vote and our tax dollars, it's not unreasonable to expect that they come through on at least a few significant promises...

GB, thanks for making those points; I find myself in full agreement.

To the point about hiring 100 people in three years: The biggest chunk of costs in local government, by far, is personnel costs. A mayor who is serious about controlling spending can only do so by controlling excess hiring.

I am not arguing that Sheehan should not have made *any* of those hires. I am saying, though, that she absolutely cannot justify hiring McCoy's nephew nor can she justify having no hiring controls in place at all. The city actually has FEWER black firefighters now than it did a decade ago when it lost a civil rights case over the issue.

I also second gb's point that, although Sheehan inherited a mess of a budget, she has done NOTHING about it. The time to act was in her first budget.....she did nothing. Sheehan is at all the fashionable fundraisers but I don't see her on the streets of west hill.

gb, first, don't misrepresent my words. And please point out where I've given our current mayor credit for anything. I haven't even said I'd vote for her again. But unfair and invalid criticisms are unfair and invalid criticisms. As to your last question, I'll reiterate that if nothing any politician does is ever enough, they have no incentive to try. It seems this is what the unsatisfiable people on this blog prefer, though. So enjoy the endless griping.

The feeble efforts to rehab buildings in Albany are to be applauded, but, none of them can be credited to Sheehan.

The Land Bank is a countywide effort that was spearheaded by others. As far as I could tell, Sheehan was a bystander on that initiative. It has great potential, but so far, only potential, Nothing much has been done.

The Sheridan Hollow project is also to be applauded but, again, this had nothing to do with Sheehan.

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