On Wednesday night the Democratic candidates for Albany County Executive locked horns at a 'candidate forum' - but Dan McCoy and Dan Egan have another Dan to consider...
He's not a Democrat, but Daniel Plaat, known for his work with Occupy Albany, attended the forum. He's running on the Green Party Line. His political mantra: "Go Green, Not Machine." "An alternative choice like myself would be for bottom-up government from the grassroots. Actually letting people lead. Giving people power and empowerment. And that's something you can hear a lot of, 'what are WE gonna do for you, what are WE going to give to people.' Very paternalistic, very ham-fisted. It keeps people at a distance from government."
Political upsets have been known to happen in upstate New York. When he was an Albany County Assemblyman, Jack McEneny defeated Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings in a primary bid to take the county's male seat on the state Democratic Committee. "There's always gonna be a tension in politics. And what happens is the tension shows up in primaries instead of general elections."
In his first election in 1991, McEneny won a write-in campaign for County Legislature. Of course Plaat will not be running in the September primary because he's not a democrat, but he followed the McCoy-Egan debate in earnest, concluding that many of the answers the candidates gave to audience questions were designed to appeal to their respective supporters. "This is more a pep rally than discussion. And the discussion was very narrow. The questions weren't, and there are a lot of different directions you could take, but the answers for the most part were focused on being talk-down, what are we going to do for people."
Plaat has a burning desire to compete with the "mainstream" candidates. "I had various discussions about rushing the stage Seattle-style, but at the last minute I suppose I decided against it, plus I came in a little late."
Plaat is doubtful an opportunity to actually engage in political debate with other candidates will emerge. "I talked to the League of Women Voters and they said they don't have the resources to have a general election forum. They only cover 'competitive races,' so those that are popular can stay popular."
The New York State League of Women Voters says their after-primary forum schedules have yet to be determined - no one from the Albany County chapter of the League of Women Voters was available for comment.