With the inauguration of Kathy Sheehan as its new mayor, Albany is ushering in a new era of city politics.
Changes are coming to city hall following the swearing-in ceremonies for the Albany Common Council, Common Council President, City Auditor, City Treasurer, and of course Mayor Kathy Sheehan, the Democrat who took over from 20-year incumbent Jerry Jennings.
Sheehan now must contend with a complicated city where high-tech development and street crime often compete for headlines. "While I hope that ultimately, I am judged by the work that I do, I know that it is important for women to lead. I also know that I didn't shatter this glass ceiling by myself. It was chiseled away at, by women who came before me, and by those who believe that diversity in government leads to better government.”
Mark Robinson takes his place among several new faces in city government - the novice councilman brings renewed hope to Albany's neglected 5th ward. He aspires "to bring life to a community that has been underprivileged and overlooked for the last twenty years." Robinson is confident conditions for his constituents will improve under Mayor Sheehan. "Me and Kathy, we've had many conversations, and she has promised me to have an open-door policy. Address the blight that runs rapid within my community"
Robinson and Mayor Sheehan appear to be on the same page. Sheehan remarked "We need to be out there listening to our neighborhoods. That's where the best ideas are. The people who live in the neighborhoods know what the issues are, know what they need and know what the challenges are."
Observers believe Sheehan is already tweaking her urban agenda. Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan welcomes the opportunity to work with another female municipal leader. "Women may have a different way of handling things. Not better, just different, and I think in those respects, we have a lot of similarities."
Congressman Paul Tonko feels the pulse of the people as Albany takes off in a new direction. "Inaugurations always remind us that we wipe the slate clean, and we fill ourselves with hope and the sense of achievement. And we move forward with an order of investment in our community."
Moving forward may be somewhat problematic: the new mayor faces a budget deficit of about $16 million.