The Primary elections are coming up September 13th. Here’s a breakdown of the races, links to information, along with my wise and enlightening remarks : )
Republican and Democratic Primaries for Controller’s Office
Article from the Recorder summarizing the primaries for the Controller’s office
For the Republicans, I would have liked to see some sort of online presence from both Matthew Agresta and Heather Reynicke. The only solid campaign information I’ve read about both candidates so far has come from Recorder article mentioned above. There’s really no excuse for either of them not to have some sort of web presence.
Based on the Recorder article, Agresta is coming into the race fresh out of college, not a lot of real world experience (except for working as Mayor Thane’s confidential aid), but with plenty of energy and a desire to serve. So while you have to respect his motivation, one has to consider that fact that he would probably have a huge learning curve to deal with. Reynicke expresses a desire to continue doing what she has been doing, and suggests reducing supervisory positions. She also points out that governmental accounting is different from commercial accounting, which might be directed at her possible Democratic challenger.
In Democratic race, I’ve found two very thorough web sites by candidates Manfred Phemister and Ron Wierzbicki. Based on the information they’ve provided, it looks to me like a choice between someone with a commercial financial background (Phemister) and someone with a governmental financial background (Wierzbicki).
Republican Primary for 4th Ward Alderman
Article from the Recorder summarizing the primary for 4th Ward Alderman
Candidates Diane Hatzenbueler and Christina Lajeunesse both have Facebook pages. Hatzenbueler lists a good number of details as to her ideas and positions on the issues. Lajeunesse gives us a few general ideas and sentiments, but I would have to say is lacking in any specifics. It would be great to see a more in-depth platform such as what Diane presents.
Democratic and Conservative Primaries for Mayor
Article from the Recorder summarizing the primaries for the office of Mayor.
In the Democratic Primary we have incumbent Mayor Ann Thane and current 4th ward Alderman Bill Wills. Wills is also challenging former mayor Joe Emanuele in the Conservative Party Primary.
Thane’s web site contains a well thought out list of ideas for improving Amsterdam that together give me a strong sense of what to expect from her if re-elected.
I have yet to see any solid plan or specific ideas put in writing by Emanuele. Nothing. Nada. Zip…
I’ve gotten a better sense of Wills’ thinking from his comments on this blog and also from his interview on the Grove Street Grumble. While I like his populist approach, and he does offer a few specific ideas, I still don’t get the sense of a well thought out action plan for city revitalization.
Will’s states in his latest letter to the editor (also posted on his Facebook page), “I hope to connect with you all so that I can better understand where we, not I, should take our City for the future.”
This is a respectable approach, however, in my view, the job of an elected official is to both represent and lead. Representing involves listening and responding. All the candidates seem to have a good sense of that. However leading requires figuring out an action plan and following through with it. This is the area that I see lacking in some of these candidate’s campaigns.
I think community meetings to help establish public policy are a great idea. Thane also includes this idea in her platform. I might suggest that it could be a winning strategy for a mayoral candidate to hold these types of meetings first, and then develop a platform to run on containing action plans based on the ideas from those meetings. That way the candidate can put forth ideas during their campaign that they know have good public support.
The other thing I have trouble with is when Wills states on his Facebook page “I want the City to achieve greatness and prominence once again in the Capital District.” However in his response to the question on The Grove Street Grumble, “What actions will you take to see that Amsterdam has a viable economic plan for the future,” the end of his response is, “Explore consolidation with the Town of Amsterdam as I see that as our future if we are to survive.” To me, these statements suggest two entirely different directions.
[Edit: My initial perception of the phrase “consolidation with the Town of Amsterdam” was that Wills was suggesting a complete merger. There are those who advocate that idea, and that’s what I attributed his statement to. But on second thought, it may be possible the he is only referring to consolidating services, which wouldn’t necessarily be in conflict with his first statement. ]
One last item that Wills writes that I think deserves some further thought is, “My ability to work with members of the so-called opposite party also says much. No one person/Mayor can accomplish anything without the support and approval of the Council. Any accomplishments or failures of an Administration can be attributed to the cooperation or not with others.”
Although Thane has good ideas, building consensus on the Common Council has been a struggle for her. If re-elected she may or may not end up with a council that is any more agreeable with her than the last. Having good ideas is not everything. Thane will have to be able to work toward political unity on the council in order to see many of her ideas brought about. I wonder if she has any ideas on how to do that any more effectively?
Thoughts, opinions and reflections related to the primaries are welcome in the comments section. Let’s try to focus on the positives of each candidate and keep any negatives respectful and specific to the issues!