Thinking "green": Lussier shares his
hopes for Albany's seventh district.
PHOTO: Chris Shields
Party candidate for Albany County Legislator discusses housing,
health care, and the “greening” of Albany’s streets
am most concerned about the abandoned buildings issue,” said
David Lussier, Green Party candidate for Albany County Legislator
in the 7th District. “The county actually has a lot of influence
on it—they control the auctions that only go on a couple times
a year. If they keep canceling them, basically what that means
is that these buildings are sitting longer and longer.”
you don’t have these buildings up and running,” he continued,
“it becomes a downward spiral, which means they’re attracting
undesirable elements. It does nothing for the neighborhood.”
Lussier, 31, works during the day as a private contractor
and spends his evenings earning a masters degree in urban
and regional planning. In between school and work, he involves
himself in his community, doing neighborhood cleanups on Saturday
mornings and knocking on doors to hear residents’ concerns.
While he admitted that working, going to school, and running
for office was “tough,” Lussier was not lacking in energy,
or in awareness of the problems plaguing his district and
things he could do to help the community.
was the vice president of the neighborhood association for
Washington Square,” said Lussier, who is from Bethlehem and
has lived in Albany for 10 years. “This was several years
ago. People had all these problems and questions. I got frustrated
because I didn’t have any answers, so I started doing research.
You have to look, not just to people you know, but to people
outside of your circle, and keep expanding until you find
something that might work.”
A major focus for Lussier is improving the local economy by
preventing “big box” stores from eliminating small businesses.
“If you do a licensing program,” said Lussier, “big box stores
have to come to you for a license. You have the complete authority
to deny them.”
He also wants to bulk purchase medication for seniors, improve
the CDTA bus line, and increase the county’s minimum wage
to $10 an hour.
“It’s a proven thing that when you raise the minimum wage,”
he said, “the people who are going to spend it first are the
people who’ve been waiting for an opportunity to spend money.
They’re the people at the bottom. If you give people the opportunity
to spend, they will. It will create a huge economic boost.”
Democratic opponent Brian Scavo, who has lived in the neighborhood
for 53 years and is currently a self-employed mechanic who
restores classic cars, is more focused on developing business
districts, emergency disaster preparedness, and improving
safety on the streets and in schools.
want to improve residential integrity to make it safe for
seniors to walk down the streets,” said Scavo. “When you send
your kids to an Albany school, you want to know they’re safe—that
they have adequate police protection and security.” In order
to have more safety in schools, Scavo said he would increase
the number of security guards. “People have the power to make
the decisions on how our kids are secured in schools—they
need to speak up and say what they want.”
In 2005, Scavo ran for Albany Common Council on the self-created
“Law and Order” party in the general election against Democratic
primary winner Cathy Fahey. A former military policeman, he
is “honored to be endorsed by the Albany Police Union” in
the 2007 election.
Scavo defeated incumbent Thomas Monjeau by 101 votes in this
year’s Democratic primary, largely by interacting more with
residents. “I love going door to door,” said Scavo. “I went
out and got all the signatures myself. That’s the difference
between me and [Lussier], though I’m sure he’s a nice fellow.”
For Scavo, being a Democrat is “all about helping people;
going door to door. I showed people how to do their tax assessments.
I’ll be on the front lines helping people.”
According to Lussier, crime is “largely a reflection of economics.
If we can provide jobs, gangs don’t look like such an attractive
money-making option. This is where I feel like we need to
bring manufacturing back into the city.”
When asked what he thought about his opponent, Lussier stated
that he makes it a point not to involve himself in political
bashing: “We don’t do the dirty fighting.”
An active member of the Green Party since 2000, Lussier is
running “on a green cities initiative.” Electric buses could
be in Albany’s future, along with “green” buildings, improved
recycling programs, and neighborhood gardening, if he is elected.
personally don’t understand why the Park South redevelopment
is taking so long, and why they paved over everything,” Lussier
said. “They could have used the asphalt to pave over potholes;
you know we have plenty of them. And then you can allow the
people in the neighborhood to have a say as to what kind of
bushes, what kind of plants they want. Instead we get caught
in this planning process that takes who knows how long.
It’s obvious what the neighborhood needs: road maintenance,
sidewalks, planting strips.”
major part of the green platform is the universal health-care
idea,” said Lussier. “I want to get state funding for an experiment
in Albany to provide the health care that everybody needs.
It’s a shame that people in the Park South neighborhood can
see the hospital, but they can’t go there unless they’re going
to the emergency room to wait. It’s an economic issue as well.
I think if we were a pilot case here in Albany, we would actually
have a major increase in job creation.”
confident that if I can get a chance—if people are just open
minded enough to give me a chance—I can back up what I’m saying.
I can prove there’s merit to what I’m saying,” said Lussier.
“I’m not expecting to push through some radical green agenda;
I can work with people. You give a little, you take a little.
I don’t expect anything to happen overnight, but at the same
time, I’m not giving up hope either.”
to the Wire
Wednesday, more than a week after the polls closed
in Albany, incumbent County Legislator Lucy McKnight
was declared the victor in the heated Democratic
primary for the 2nd Legislative District. Her
opponent, Lester Freeman, initially appeared to
be ahead with a four-vote lead as returns came
in, but after counting absentee ballots, McKnight
was left with a small lead.
criticized for exploiting 9/11 for political reasons,
Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani’s
campaign suffered embarrassment when an unaffiliated
political supporter announced that he would host
a fund-raising party where Giuliani supporters
would be asked to contribute $9.11. Former State
Department advisor Abraham Sofaer was to host
the fund-raiser at his California home but denies
any part in the “$9.11 for Rudy” theme. According
to Maria Comella, a spokesperson for the Giuliani
campaign, the “$9.11 for Rudy” theme was conceived
by “two volunteers who acted independently of
and without the knowledge of the campaign.” The
goal of the fund-raiser, according to the invitation,
is to “raise $10,000 in small increments to show
how many individual, everyday Americans support
‘America’s Mayor.’ ”
United States Supreme Court announced that it
would rule on the case of two death-row inmates
in Kentucky who claim that the widely used procedure
of lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment
and is therefore unconstitutional. The three chemicals
used in lethal injection cause unconsciousness,
paralysis, and cardiac arrest, but critics of
the procedure say that sometimes the barbiturate
used to induce unconsciousness wears off too quickly,
and that the paralyzed convict can be subjected
to excruciating pain as cardiac arrest sets in.
In other cases, the drugs did not stop the convict’s
heart and they asphyxiated slowly and consciously.
Executions across the country could be postponed
while the Supreme Court decides the fate of the
loose ends this week-