“It felt good, it quieted all of the questions,” said Corey Ellis, Albany’s 11th Ward Democratic leader, after he officially announced last Friday (April 5) that he would run for mayor of Albany. “I felt like I had to get some things done. I never felt rushed.”
Not that the pressure wasn’t on. After losing to incumbent Jerry Jennings in the 2009 primary by a close margin (he took seven of the city’s 15 wards and 44 percent of the vote), it was widely accepted that Ellis would return to the ring. However, he refused to confirm or deny a run even after city Albany City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination last November.
Born and raised in Albany, Ellis, a former union organizer, left the Capital Region to obtain a degree in political science from Fordham University. After his return he immersed himself in the politics and the socioeconomics of his hometown. Some of his involvement includes his representation of the 3rd Ward in the Albany Common Council, his election as a member of the New York State Democratic Committee representing the 108th Assembly District, and his position as ward leader of the 11th Ward. Ellis also co-founded the Capital Region Black Chamber of Commerce, and has acted as a mentor in the Albany City School District.
Ellis said that he has big ideas for the state capital. “Why can’t we have term limits in our city government?,” he asked. “Why can’t we have a community college? Why can’t we have a state-of-the-art aquarium? A tourist attraction? Something that would lead to high-speed rail? Why not?”
Ellis’ campaign focus is: “Renew Albany. Renewing Albany for its future now. One city. One Albany.” He said that he believes that the city of Albany should grow as a whole, and that improvements be made to all of the city’s neighborhoods, to the benefit of all of its residents. “We’ve got to grow our city,” he said, “and keep people here.”
Ellis will face a tough race against Sheehan, a popular contender who has been building support since last year. If five-time incumbent Jennings does enter the contest (he has yet to commit), the outcome will be even more unpredictable. In Ellis’ last bid, a lot of time and energy was spent between him and Shawn Morris, another Democratic challenger, as they both fought for the support of progressive voters.
“I’m the candidate who epitomizes what progress is,” said Ellis. “I’m not going to be the candidate with the most money. I wasn’t born with money, I didn’t have access to people with money. I’m the one who shouldn’t have had the chance to run for office.”
Still, he feels that he has what it takes to get those pivotal votes. “I’m bringing to this race something different. It’s about me and my record—I’m not just saying something, but doing it.”