an incumbent, it is a wide-open race for the four candidates
of the 11th Ward
Over the past two weeks, the four declared candidates in Albany’s
11th Ward Common Council election have been knocking on doors,
collecting signatures, and talking to constituents in what
is shaping up to be the most crowded Common Council race this
In the running are Ken Barnes, Luke Gucker, Anton Konev and
Justin Teff, who will be facing off first in September’s Democratic
primary. Teff has secured the endorsement of the Albany Democratic
Committee; Barnes, Gucker, and Konev are endorsed by the Conservative
Party, the Working Families Party, and the Independence Party
respectively, meaning that each hopeful can still end up on
the ballot even if they are unsuccessful in the Democratic
Barnes and Konev both ran unsuccessful bids for the Albany
County Legislature in 2007, and Justin Teff campaigned for
and lost the 11th Ward seat four years ago against the current
councilman, Democrat Glen Casey.
think it’s pretty exciting to see so many candidates on the
ballot, personally,” said Dan Curtis, president of the Pine
Hills Neighborhood Association (PHNA). “I think it’s a good
thing for the 11th, because the ward certainly needs a lot
All four candidates name public safety as one of their top
concerns for the ward, which has recently suffered from an
increase in crime.
believe that a community policing approach is definitely the
way,” said Gucker, who considers himself to be the most progressive
candidate. “I think the police right now are taking a very
reactive approach to crime, and I want to help find a way
to approach it more proactively.”
Gucker said that his urban-planning background sets him apart
from other candidates. “Urban planning is more concerned about
the building of the environment. I don’t think that approach
has really been used in the political spectrum.”
Konev and Teff also advocate for community policing, while
Barnes feels that the city needs to focus on reaching out
to people before they turn to crime.
got to reach the kids before they’re 18,” said Barnes. “We’ve
got to have after-school programs.” Barnes suggested recruiting
senior citizens to volunteer for sports and after-school programs
to save money for the school district, and starting community-service
programs where children would receive incentives like event
tickets for completing service hours.
can’t just say, ‘I’d like to end world hunger and solve world
peace,’” said Barnes, “You have to have some ideas about where
we’re going to start. I think if we can get a few of these
programs going it’ll help stop some of the problems in this
Barnes, who has lived in the 11th Ward for 28 years, is a
more moderate Democrat, as is Teff, which Curtis said could
end up splitting the vote.
am behind Mayor Jennings, I don’t think that’s a secret to
anyone at this point,” said Teff. He feels that his run against
Casey and his work as ward leader have better prepared him
for the constituent work of a council member, while his work
as an attorney puts him in a better position to research issues
and local law to understand what can and can’t be done.
Konev feels that it is his work in the state Legislature that
sets him apart, but he has received criticism for his 2007
run for Albany County as a Republican.
am committed to improving the Democratic Party,” said Konev.
“However, just like President Obama, I believe we need to
get away from partisan politics that are failing us. In my
county Legislature race, I was seeking to breach the partisan
divide and asked for support of all parties.” Konev said that
he was unable to participate in the Democratic primary after
what he called a series of questionable decisions by the board
of elections, and instead chose to run on the Citizens for
Change and Republican lines.
All of the candidates said that Casey’s decision not to run
did not affect their campaign. Casey, who at one point was
planning to run for Common Council president, has said that
he decided not to run to spend more time with his family.
my viewpoint,” Curtis said, “Glen was gearing up for a run
for the Common Council president and it was clear he was assuming
he would have the mayor’s support for that. The mayor made
it clear he wasn’t supporting Glen, and by the time he realized
that wasn’t going to materialize, Justin had already scheduled
the endorsement vote with the ward committee and by a pretty
large majority, the committee endorsed Justin for the seat.”
Moving forward, the candidates are speaking to constituents
and planning events, aside from Barnes, who said that he will
not be fundraising.
are tight for everyone,” Barnes said. “I’m just going out
there, meeting people, shaking hands, and talking to them.
I’m not going to do fundraisers, I’m not going to do robocalls,
or anything like that. I believe in the personal approach,
and if that’s not good enough, then maybe I’m wrong, but that’s
Curtis said that while the PHNA does not make political endorsements,
he is hoping to organize a debate for candidates in the 10th
and the 11th wards.
have two very strong challengers for the mayor,” said Curtis,
“and that could certainly detract from the attention that
the city council could get, which is why we’re going to try
and maintain a focus on the local legislators as well.”
and members of Save the Pine Bush demonstrated outside of
the Department of Environmental Conservation building in downtown
Albany Monday, protesting the anticipated approval of the
city of Albany’s application to the state agency to expand
the Rapp Road Landfill.“We are very much concerned that is
what they are going to do,” said Steve Downs, an attorney
who is representing Save the Pine Bush in its case against
the development of a Residence Inn in the Pine Bush. Grace
Nichol, a representative with Save the Pine Bush, said that
they will pursue legal action if the D.E.C. approves the expansion.
“This is not how a D.E.C. behaves,” Nichol said. For more
information, visit savethepinebush.org.
loose ends this week-