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Rounding Out the Field

While the majority of the Capital Region focuses on the Democratic Primary, there are several other mayoral candidates to consider for the Nov. 5 general election

by E.S. Cormac on August 28, 2013 · 1 comment

Photo courtesy of the Calhoun campaign

Jesse Calhoun (Republican)

“The first thing I would try to change is the economic situation, the [process to obtain permits], the cabaret laws, allow more freedom in zoning and [getting permits]. That would take a lot of work but definitely worth doing I think,” Jesse Calhoun says.

Calhoun moved to Albany five years ago from Ohio, where he was born and raised. He says the people in the Capital Region initially attracted him to the city. “There are a lot of activist types, free-thinking people, so I was attracted to that, and I moved up here with the lead guitarist of the band.”

Since his move, Calhoun got involved in the activist community through the organization Occupy Albany; he also hosts a podcast radio show and is a preschool teacher.

Calhoun doesn’t find a contradiction in being both an activist in a movement like Occupy Albany and a Republican candidate for public office. “I think Occupy is a pretty big tent that can fit a lot of people that are pretty dissatisfied with the way our country is going,” he says.

The activist-turned-mayoral-candidate decided to run for office after becoming involved with the discussions about tactical training conducted by the Albany Police Department at the Ida Yarbrough Public Housing Complex on March 21, 2013. “I didn’t feel that anybody was taking any reasonable action, so I ran,” Calhoun says of the driving force behind his decision to run for mayor of Albany.

“I’m invested in the community, so I have a vested interest into making it as good as I can for myself and for everybody else,” says Calhoun on why people should cast a vote for him in the Nov. 5 election.

If he were not allowed to vote for himself in the election, Calhoun says he would vote for Alex Portelli. “His young energy in getting all those people registered as Libertarians is an awesome thing. I think nobody can take that away from him.”


Photo by E.S. Cormac

“Every election we hope that we see change, but we vote for the same career politicians and things continue to get worse, so let’s get an average person in office and maybe we’ll see real changes in our lives,” Portelli says.

Portelli is the youngest candidate, at 23 years old, and a lifelong Albany resident. He studied at Bard and Sienna Colleges. He also is the owner of Portelli’s Joe and Dough (66 Central Ave.). And he is currently on parole after serving time in a state prison for a drug conviction.

“Look what I’ve accomplished, I’ve been through what the people have suffered in the city,” Portelli says of why voters should choose him come November.

Portelli is running his campaign on a number of issues, many relating to small business. “We want to throw out the outdoor café permit, throw out the amusement and game device ordinance—a permit you need to have in order to have a pinball machine in your store,” he says.

He is also calling on limiting the salaries of elected officials in the city. “I would cut the mayor’s salary by $100,000 dollars,” Portelli claims. He also plans on eliminating pensions for elected officials in the city.

Portelli was the first candidate to announce a run for the mayor’s office. He began his campaign in October, and his cadre of volunteers gathered all the required signatures needed. They also registered more than 300 Libertarian and Independent voters since then, according to Portelli. “We have no party support at all, we spent $500 on the campaign since October, and we have about 100 signs up around town, so there’s obviously people that believe in it,” he says.

His campaign hit a snag recently when Steve King of the Albany City Republican Committee challenged the validity of the 1,514 signatures Portelli collected in order to be on the November ballot.

Because he is a parolee Portelli, cannot vote in the Nov. 5 election, but if he could, and could not vote for himself, he says he would vote for either Joseph Sullivan or William Peltz (an inactive candidate who secured the Green Party ballot for the election to block non-Greens from grabbing an extra ballot line). “We need to start going toward candidates that are motivated by principle, and not motivated by career,” Portelli says.



Photo by E.S. Cormac

Joseph Sullivan (Conservative)

“I realized politics affects every aspect of our lives, so there is no use sitting on the sidelines, and that’s why I’m involved at this age. I’m probably the oldest candidate in the race—I’m 76,” says Sullivan about his decision to run for mayor of Albany.

Sullivan is no stranger to Albany politics or to city government. He can trace his political involvement all the way back to the Daniel O’Connell days. O’Connell was chairman of the Albany County Democratic Party for 56 years until his death in 1977, creating what was known as the Albany Democratic Machine.

Sullivan focuses his campaign on several economic issues, and runs his grassroots movement on his blog (LoneRangerAlbany.blogspot), which is read internationally.

“Build a refinery at the port of Albany to refine the oil, and hopefully that would bring down the price locally for gasoline and home heating oil, and it would also provide jobs and it would also add to the city tax base,” Sullivan says of one of his plans.

He would also like to see the city tap into the proposed hydroelectric line that will run from Montreal to Queens. “In both cases, the oil and the electricity, power is the central thing that we need, low-cost energy to redevelop our manufacturing and also to expand our local agriculture,” Sullivan says.

Despite his Conservative Party alignment, Sullivan has fought for many environmental issues throughout the city, including the fight to create the Buckingham Pond Park. “I’ve been heavily involved in politics because of land use issues, fighting battles over big-box stores and saving open space as you go along New Scotland Avenue,” Sullivan says.

Security is another key issue for Sullivan, who sees the amount of oil and natural gas moving through Albany by rail as a potential terrorist target. “If we’re not safe, nothing else matters, we’re still engaged in the War on Terror, many people have forgotten that Albany is a very vulnerable soft target,” he says, citing a speech by Osama Bin Laden.

When asked which candidate he would vote for if he could not vote for himself, he chose Alex Portelli. “He has appeal to a number of younger people; he’s also a small-business owner down on Central Avenue,” Sullivan says.


Marlon Anderson (Write-In)

“I’ve said from day one to the individuals I’ve spoken to, the thousands of people I’ve petitioned that jobs is my main priority,” Anderson said during an Aug. 5 mayoral forum hosted by Occupy Albany.

Anderson is arguably one of the most outspoken candidates, but oddly enough, despite many attempts could not be reached for an interview in time for the publication of this article.

Anderson is also no stranger to the Albany political scene: In 2009 he ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor as a write-in candidate. He has also been vocal on a variety of social issues, and according to a Times Union blog, he frequently sends letters to the paper’s editorial page.

During the current election cycle, Anderson accused fellow candidate Corey Ellis as the force behind his disqualification to run on the Democratic ticket. In an issued public statement posted on the Times Union blog, Anderson became disqualified this year from running as a Democrat when 225 of his 1,125 petition signatures were ruled invalid by the Albany County Board of Elections. A person must have 1,000 signatures to gain position on a political party’s ballot.

“We can bring Dave and Busters to downtown Albany, we can bring Macy’s to downtown Albany, we can do that— we have the market base,” Anderson said at the Occupy forum. Anderson believes that jobs are the main issue facing the city of Albany, and claims that his outline, The Gateway Program, has solutions to these problems.