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Herstory in the Making

Three women want to be Albany’s next mayor—could this be the year?

by Erin Pihlaja on October 3, 2013


OK, so Argonia, Kan., may have beaten Albany, N.Y., by 126 years or so, but this year, New York’s capital city may finally be able to proclaim 2013 the “Year of the Woman.”

City treasurer and mayoral candidate Kathy Sheehan swept the Democratic primary this September, and is a favorite to take over the seat being vacated by retiring five-term incumbent Jerry Jennings. A front-runner, yes, but she won’t be the only woman in the Nov. 5 general election who is vying for the chance to break the historically white-male-dominated position.

Among those joining the mix will be Valerie Faust as a write-in candidate. Faust is known in Albany for her work as a pastor and a community activist, namely with the Albany Gun Violence Task Force. She ran in the 2009 general election as a write-in candidate, and she received 28 votes.

In a press release, Faust said, “On September 10, 2013, Democrat voters stayed home in record numbers allowing less than 47 percent of the typical primary voters to decide the election. Getting in the race will provide more than 8,000 Democrats plus all other political parties with another opportunity to steer the future of Albany on a better course for everyone.”

 Faust has only about a month to reach voters. In the same press release, in regard to whether or not she had a chance to win, she said, “Absolutely! I have proven my commitment to many of the people of Albany and know that I will, with the people helping me, carry our City forward.”

The Green Party candidate, former school board member Theresa Portelli, is the other woman in the race. Portelli won the Green Party line in the primary by receiving more write-in votes than party-endorsed candidate William Peltz, who has since offered his support of her candidacy. Portelli entered the race after her son, Alexander Portelli, dropped out.

“It’s an unusual time in Albany,” she said. “For the first time in 20 years, there is no incumbent running. There’s been a single-party government in Albany for 80 years. I’m an independent running on the Green Party line. It’s time people look beyond the party label and look at the people running.”

Republican Jesse Calhoun and Conservative Party candidate Joseph Sullivan are also on the ballot for the general election.