Common Council hopefuls get in line
Current president Shawn Morris is expected to run for the mayor's seat
By TIM O'BRIEN, Staff writer First published in print: Tuesday, February 24, 2009
ALBANY — As Common Council President Shawn Morris prepares to launch a bid for mayor, others are starting to line up for her job.
Council Majority Leader Carolyn McLaughlin said she will run, Council member Glen Casey is said to be pondering the race, and regular attendee Timothy Carney has said he wants to win the job so he can eliminate it. Lenny Ricchiuti, who leads Albany's Police Athletic League, said he has been approached but he likes what he's doing now.
Morris hasn't formally announced her bid to run for mayor in a Democratic primary against Mayor Jerry Jennings. But asked Monday if she's a potential contender for her current seat this fall, she replied bluntly: "No."
"I am going to run for that," she said of the mayor's job. "It's a matter of timing the announcement."
The council leader's post, which pays $30,938 a year, is largely ceremonial. The council leader runs meetings but only votes to break a tie, a rarity on a 15-member body.
McLaughlin, 55, said she sees the role as a natural fit after 12 years representing the Second Ward. She also works as an assistant manager for human resources for the New York State Teachers Retirement System.
"I think I am the prime candidate to not only move the city agenda forward, and the council agenda forward, but I can foster collaboration," she said. "You do need someone in that position who has experience with the council, who has some experience with the departments in the city. One of the things I hope to do is to bridge the gap between the council and the mayor."
Jennings and the council operate almost in separate spheres, with little interaction. Council members often complain they don't get answers from the administration.
"We have to ask for it and to let him know that this is for the benefit of the city," she said. "It's not for the benefit of the council president."
Casey, first elected in the 11th Ward in 2001, and Carney could not be reached for comment Monday. Carney once ran for the county Legislature in 1995 and managed Lester Freeman's primary campaign for the 21st Congressional District.
He has said at one council meeting he wants to run to work toward eliminating the council leader's job and to cut the size of the council in half.
Ricchiuti said he was asked to consider a run, but it's not on his agenda right now.
"I am enjoying what I am doing with the Police Athletic League," he said. "I guess it's kind of flattering that people think I have something to contribute."
Staff writer Tim O'Brien can be reached at 454-5092 or by e-mail at email@example.com.