ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The 2021 Albany mayoral election is only weeks away, and several candidates are hoping to unseat incumbent Mayor Kathy Sheehan. In the wake of Saturday’s shooting, many residents are asking what strategies the candidates have to combat the ongoing violence in Albany?
Every year the U.S. News & World Report ranks the best places to live in New York state, and last week, the outlet announced Albany at the top spot.
“And I’m like, where are they [U.S. News & World Report] getting that from? When just Saturday, somebody was murdered, and six people were at the hospital,” Valerie F. Faust, write-in candidate, said.
This morning, Faust held a press conference at the steps of the Capital to assure voters that she’s still in the race.
“I am not a politician, but that’s a good thing that I can come in fresh and new and work with people who are eager for change,” Faust said.
Greg Aidala is running as an independent candidate and agrees that a change needs to be made in leadership to combat the ongoing violence. He said he’s seen Albany transform for the worse right from his family business on Quail street.
“Over the years, you hear the politicians say the same rhetoric,” Aidala said. “We’re going to invest in these neighborhoods; we’re going to empower the people. Well, when?
Aidala added that he believes one of the primary issues is staffing at the Albany Police Department.
“You know the cops are short almost 80 cops in the city. You can’t run a city when they are demoralized and down that many people,” Aidala said.
Aidala’s “80 cops” referred to Sheehan’s goal in the 2022 Proposed City Budget to “process, hire, train, and graduate more than 80 sworn police officers to address staffing shortages and improve police services to the City.”
His strategy for combatting ongoing violence in Albany also included putting more trust in law enforcement and their own internal strategy.
“I’ll let them do their job. I’m not going to micromanage them. That’s their science. I can’t tell them what to do,” Aidala said.
On the other hand, Faust said trust between the community and Albany police isn’t there.
“We need the police; the community needs the police,” Faust said. “But if you have no communication and there’s no trust—which is what I want to build, bridge-building.”
Republican mayoral candidate, Alicia Purdy, says the crux of the problem is lack of retention in the police force.
“I’m gravely concerned that not only will this [gun violence] not stop, but it will gravely escalate if we don’t hold up law and order in the city of Albany,” Purdy said.
Purdy added that she wants to strike a balance between supporting the police and the people. However, improving conditions for officers is a top priority.
“Taking a knee, not standing with officers when there has been problems, not bridging gaps of communication; None of that has been done, and really morale has broken down,” Purdy said. “And it’s only gotten worse. But with better management, it actually can get better.”
Sheehan’s strategies to “reduce crime” are detailed in her 2022 Proposed City Budget. She spoke with News10 in response to Saturday’s shooting and said the city is continuing to take steps to combat gun violence. Sheehan added that she is calling on residents to help in their efforts.
“When you see something, say something. And I will say, we’ve seen a big increase in calls to the police department, and it helps. It definitely helps. We can’t be everywhere all the time,” Sheehan said.
The Mayor also mentioned the city’s plans to further expand the SNUG program that provides “proactive intervention for gang activity or at-risk youth within the city of Albany.”