In the exclusive YNN/Siena College poll of the Albany mayoral primary race, there are a number of areas where the city is not excelling. Innae Park sat down with each of the candidates to find out how they would change those ratings.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- While the majority of Albany residents believe the city is heading in the right direction, that is, according to the YNN/Siena College poll, their concerns about individual issues don't reflect that. It turns out perception versus reality is a theme in the mayoral Democratic primary race.
One example: “Crime is down overall. But it’s that feeling that people have that they’re not safe,” explained city treasurer Kathy Sheehan.
Candidate Corey Ellis said, “I believe the perception of our schools is wrong.”
When it comes to education, 31 percent of those polled say the quality of Albany's public schools is just fair. However, both candidates believe the city's school system is strong, it’s just that the efforts of others are needed.
“What about public safety? The Department of Social Services? All the not-for-profits that do wonderful programs in our city? We need to recognize we've got to take a collective approach,” argued Sheehan.
Ellis spoke of motivating the students with what is around them.
“When they see things getting built in their neighborhoods, their attitude about education changes. Then they see a reason why they need to go to school and get an education,” he said.
Building the neighborhoods is a platform of both candidates. In this area, Corey Ellis trails Kathy Sheehan by eight points, with 40 percent saying she would do a better job at addressing neighborhood concerns. Ellis received 32 percent. Both are pushing for walkable areas that allow small businesses to thrive, but how to do so is where they differ.
Sheehan proposes the creation of a land bank.
“That gives us the ability to get control of certain properties and allow neighborhoods to plan for what the future use of those properties is going to be.”
On the other hand, Ellis wants to focus wholly on the entrepreneurs.
“You have a small business council. You look at your city as a whole. Where do we need certain businesses in certain neighborhoods?”
As for businesses downtown, and even by the waterfront, “We want something to generate people going downtown, and we should have a state-of-the-art aquarium,” said Ellis. “And then surround that aquarium with small businesses.”
Sheehan sees the goal of the Hudson River differently.
“Recreation at our waterfront, which I wholeheartedly support. I keep saying we need a boat house, not a bar,” she said. “And looking at our convention center site. On that site sits the oldest structure in our city. We are an historic city. So my approach to big economic development is to start with our strength.”
While both are for a convention center, the public is not. The YNN/Siena College poll shows 59 percent oppose building it, while 33 percent support.
Current plans for the Albany convention center are still in the beginning stages, but the candidates' visions for Albany are fully developed.
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