The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and WAMC Northeast Public Radio held the 2013 Albany Mayoral Forum on Sustainability this morning at the Linda Norris Auditorium on Central Avenue, one of the only times the candidates to replace Mayor Jerry Jennings will gather during the campaign.
Five of the six declared candidates fielded questions from WAMC President and CEO Alan Chartock and Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.
The candidates agreed speeding cars are a problem in the capital city. Conservative Party candidate Joe Sullivan would like to see trolley cars return to city streets along with light rail to the suburbs; he favors holding bad drivers more accountable. Democrat Corey Ellis, who fell in a close 2009 primary, agreed. Independent Democrat Marlon Anderson said he's already involved in change. Running as a Republican, Jesse Calhoun says emerging technologies need to embraced long term. Democratic Party-backed city treasurer Kathy Sheehan it's wonderful to dream about light rail...
Talk of sustainability moved to downtown, the blight of vacant buildings and the preservation of neighborhoods... Sullivan pointed to the city's dated infrastructure. The candidates weighed in on using land banks as a tool to attack vacant and abandoned buildings. Sheehan is hopeful that the county will join the Schenectady land bank. Ellis says the first step should have been joining a regional land bank, not trying to start a new one from scratch. Anderson isn't keen on land banks. Sullivan likes the idea of local control.
The candidates also spoke about the future of Interstate 787, developing the riverfront, building an aquarium and creating jobs. At one point during the forum, the line of questioning turned fowl: Anderson is against "animal husbandry in the city." Calhoun says there are many concerns to be addressed involving chickens - Sheehan welcomes more ideas about urban farming and access to fresh food. Sullivan and Ellis concurred that zoning specific areas of the city for chicken raising would be a good avenue to explore.
The forum went on - the candidates discussing everything from dredging to reducing the carbon footprint to climate change to Albany's 2030 plan.
When the candidates were asked if they thought departing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had done anything notable for the Big Apple along the lines of sustainability that should be replicated in Albany, the issue evolved into include gun control.
Independent/Libertarian candidate Alexander Portelli said he had a scheduling conflict and was unable to attend the event.
Listen to the entire one-hour forum here.