Sheehan Takes Oath: 'A New Era' Begins

Jan 2, 2014

Kathy Sheehan has taken the reins as the first female Albany mayor in more than three centuries of city history.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Breaking from city tradition in more ways than one, former city treasurer Kathy Sheehan was officially sworn in New Year's Day at Kiernan Plaza in downtown Albany. Fellow Democrat New York Lt. Governor Bob Duffy gave the keynote address, hailing the day as the start of "Mayor Sheehan's era."

"We are going to be led in this city by a mayor who has all the tools, who has the passion, she has the experience. This is a great time, a great part of history for the city of Albany, a great part of history in the state."

Former New York State Assemblyman and Albany historian Jack McEneny pointed out that Sheehan is the fifth mayor in 88 years. He says change is inevitable.   “The thing about our American democracy is it has a spirit of renewal. That’s why we have terms of office and elections and I think every generation makes a difference.  This mayor will reflect today’s generation. I think, yes, you’re gonna see things that are new and different.”

Congressman Paul Tonko says Sheehan brings "a whole lot of hope" to the future of Albany.  "I think there is going to be a very strategic approach that Kathy will take to this job, incorporating planning and tax reform and zoning incentives that will provide the sort of innovation to grow the city." 

Mayor Sheehan, who takes over from 20-year mayor Jerry Jennings, concedes "there is much work to do."  "...creating a city government we can afford. Bringing City Hall into the 21st century. And changing the way we deliver services to our residents and businesses will require hard work. Not only from me, but from many of you here today."

Sheehan made it clear that she is up for all challenges.  "In his 1937 inaugural speech, Franklin Roosevelt said 'Government is competent when all who compose it work as trustees for the whole people.' In taking this oath today, I have made a solemn vow to commit myself to that work. Daunting as the task may be, I am motivated by another quote, from Nelson Mandela. 'It always seems impossible, until it's done.' Thank you."

Sheehan faces a rash of issues, including crime and poverty, downtown redevelopment plans, and a complicated budget picture.