Political veteran, newcomer seek Albany council presidency
By JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST, Staff writer Click byline for more stories by writer. Last updated: 5:23 p.m., Tuesday, March 3, 2009
ALBANY -- Common Council Majority Leader Carolyn McLaughlin pledged to improve communication with the public and the mayor's office today as she launched her campaign for council president.
Meanwhile, Seventh Ward resident Tim Carney, who is scheduled to announce his candidacy Wednesday morning, said he's running to slash seven of 16 council seats, including the president's post, to save taxpayer money.
The two Democrats represent two ends of the political spectrum -- in McLaughlin, 55, a seasoned politician who says her contacts will be an invaluable asset and, in Carney, 46, a citizen who says his years observing the governmental process inform his ideas of what needs to be changed.
Councilman Glen Casey, who represents the 11th Ward, said he's still exploring the idea of running and expects to make a decision by April.
"One of the major roles is to make sure that we communicate to the people of the city of Albany those issues that are important to them, to give them an understanding so that they can respond correctly to issues that are confronting our city," said McLaughlin, who is in her third term on the council representing the Second Ward in the South End.
McLaughlin, noting that the council president is next in line should the mayor leave office, said she would also push for council leadership to meet directly with the mayor instead of his subordinates.
"How can we confront the issues of this city if we are not having direct communication with whoever is sitting in the mayor's office?" she said.
The council president's seat, unlike the other council seats, is elected citywide. In addition to running the council's meetings, the president casts the deciding vote should the 15 other council members vote to a tie. It pays $30,938 annually.
"I say that the position is a useless position," Carney said, adding that 15 seats, plus the president, is far too many in a city Albany's size and that more than $1 million could be saved over four years by eliminating them.
"I've tried to make changes in the way city government has worked for quite a few years," said Carney, who also said he helped co-found the Delaware Area Neighborhood Association.
Carney, who works as an assistant sales manager for Capital Volvo, said he's also in favor of limiting elected officials to three consecutive 4-year terms and seeking bond authorization to repair all city streets and sidewalks -- to be paid back with a commuter tax on people who work in the city but don't live there.
Current Council President Shawn Morris has said she will not seek another term as she prepares to run for mayor.