ALBANY, N.Y. - In a letter sent out Tuesday night, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings announced he would not seek re-election for a sixth term in office.
Jennings said his love for the city was boundless, but that the time had come for him to step aside. Jennings became the City of Albany's 74th mayor in 1993, making him the city's second longest to serve in office.
"Jerry Jennings has been a tremendous public servant and friend for over 20 years," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday. "When you think of Albany, the first thing you think of is Jerry. No one has cared more deeply for the city of Albany or worked harder for the people here then Jerry. I want to thank Jerry for his decades of service and wish him well."
The announcement came just before an Albany County Democratic Party's executive committee meeting, where members were expected to convene to consider endorsements for this year's election. Shortly after, Jennings released a first-person letter addressed to city residents, ending months of rampant speculation as to whether or not he would seek re-election after 20 years as the city leader.
"I wasn't surprised he wasn't running, I kind of thought since he was taking so long to make a decision that he was probably leaning towards not running," Albany Common Councilman Dominick Calsolaro said. "It will be different, that's for sure. Twenty years is a long time not to really have a change. So now you know the administration is definitely changing, no matter what happens in the election."
Prior to the official announcement, it was expected that his eventual departure would trigger a cascade of mayoral hopefuls to seek out election for the position that has not seen much change in recent years. Erastus Corning II, who served 11 terms, and Jennings' longevity in office means that only three other people have been elected mayor in the last 72 years.
"We are known for long term mayors in the city of Albany," retired state Assemblyman Jack McEneny said. "Forty-two years for Mayor Corning and 11 years or so for Mayor Whalen. Now 20 years for Mayor Jennings. Twenty years and it's time. I think the mayor saw that. He's had 20 years of faithful service, he's had a wonderful work ethic, he's certainly loved the city, but it's time for a fresh start. I wish him well on all of his future endeavors and I thank him for his past work."
Before his time in the Mayor's office, Jennings served for 13 years as a Member of the Common Council representing the 11th Ward. Born and raised in Albany, Jennings had a 21-year career as a popular teacher and high school administrator for the Albany City School District prior to his political endevours.
Jennings did not take questions after Tuesday night's announcement, but he is expected to address the media Wednesday morning about his plans for the future.
Two Democratic contenders, City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan and former City Councilman Corey Ellis, have already announced their intentions to fill Jennings' position.
Here is the letter Jennings released Tuesday night:
Dear City of Albany Residents:
I have had both the honor and privilege of serving as Mayor of the greatest Capital City in the United States for nearly twenty years. Having been born and raised in this community has only served to bolster my commitment to and passion for the people who make this City so special.
While it certainly would be easy for me to list the myriad accomplishments over my tenure as your Mayor, from economic development initiatives in every corner of our City; to innovative and engaging programs for our youth; to implementing community policing and neighborhood revitalization; to enhancing our City's quality of life; to securing millions of dollars in State and Federal funding ensuring the fiscal stability of our City and lessening the burden on our taxpayers, none is more meaningful to me than the belief in our people.
My love for this City and my commitment to our children, our neighborhoods and the people who reside in them is boundless. Given this, the decision of whether to seek another term as your mayor has been one of the difficult evaluations I have ever faced. My family has been supportive; my trusted friends valued.
After countless hours of deliberations and evaluation, I have decided not to seek re-election as your Mayor. Although every day I still find joy in the work I do and in the people I serve, the time has come for a new chapter to be written.
Albany's future is bright, and, from the bottom of my heart I want to thank each of you for the trust you have placed in me. Collectively, we have done great things, and I have every reason to believe that we are well poised for continued growth and prosperity. Thank you for your understanding and years of support.
I will always be your friend and the biggest supporter of our "All America City."
Gerald D. Jennings
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