Common Councilman, and Albany mayoral candidate, Corey
Ellis campaigning in the 9th Ward.
Race Is On
mayoral candidate Corey Ellis takes his message door to door,
while incumbent Mayor Jerry Jennings defends his record
make sure that the schools are effective, we have to make
sure that these kids live in safe neighborhoods,” Councilman
Corey Ellis said, standing on the front porch of a modest
single-family home on Forest Avenue in Albany’s 9th Ward.
“Forty percent of the children in the South End and Arbor
Hill live below the poverty level. We have kids who can’t
live in safe neighborhoods, where crime is running rampant.
How can we expect them to leave those unsafe neighborhoods
and be effective students?”
He could have asked anything to the middle-aged homeowner
staring blankly back at him. Ellis knew before he went to
her door that she was a supporter of Mayor Jerry Jennings.
demographics, the older age groups,” the first-time mayoral
candidate said later, are where his campaign has found the
majority of Jennings’ supporters.
But there are Machine houses, too, he said. “I can tell not
only by age but by how many are registered in the house. You
see seven people registered Democrat in the house, regardless
if they live there, if the kids are off to college, I know
that those aren’t my votes.”
Ellis is running an ambitious campaign to unseat a 16-year
incumbent who raised more than $360,000 in campaign contributions
by the July reporting. That is nearly 10 times the $37,000
Ellis was able to raise. Further, Ellis had spent all but
$11,000 of his war chest; Jennings still had on hand $273,000.
Ellis shrugged. “What can Jerry spend that money on? TV spots?
The voting population is so small, you can only spend so much
money to get a vote. We are only talking about 16,000 people.”
A successful campaign is about going door to door, he said,
and about calling voters. “You can talk to voters without
It has worked for him so far. He has already enjoyed an early
victory by outlasting Common Council President Shawn Morris,
who dropped out of the race on July 16. “Our campaign was
reenergized by that,” Ellis said, adding that he hopes the
people who supported Morris will now support him.
At least one of the people Ellis spoke to Monday night was
a former Morris supporter and volunteer. The college-aged
woman told Ellis that she would now volunteer for his campaign.
“I was supporting her because I didn’t know about you,” she
admitted. “I don’t like Jennings.”
what we have seen,” Ellis said. “It’s definitely a battle
to beat Jerry.”
At another house, during a discussion on the growing tax burden
facing the city, a mother told Ellis: “There needs to be a
moratorium on charter schools.”
voted for it,” Ellis said. Until the current charter schools
are full, the city doesn’t need to spend its valuable education
resources on them. “They are placing an undue burden on a
school system that is already burdened.”
the mayor favor charter schools? Are there too many of them?”
Ellis asked. “He needs to answer that.”
think that we are pretty maxed,” Jennings told Metroland,
“but we wouldn’t need charter schools if public schools were
effective. Charter schools play a role because a lot of parents
are sending their kids to charter schools because they have
lost confidence in our public schools.”
Charter schools have advantages, Jennings continued: They
have longer school years; the kids wear uniforms. “But they
don’t have the demands of a special education program, etc.,
etc., so that’s why I think that they could complement each
other, as opposed to being competitive with each other.”
On that Monday evening in that middle-class neighborhood,
Ellis fielded multiple questions about how he would approach
what is seen as an increase in crime in Albany.
need to get back to community policing,” Ellis said. “Our
police department has become stat takers. They can tell you
where the crimes are, but we have to begin to prevent those
crimes from happening. And I believe the way we can do that
is by having officers on the beat, constantly, so people know
who their officers are. That way the community gets more engaged
in the police department, and vice versa.”
Jennings answered: “People have to look at it: One crime is
too much, but crime has gone down in the city, over the past
three years. If you look back, what we did was we modernized
the department,” pointing to the city’s development of the
Strategic Deployment Unit, more than 20 officers who can be
deployed anywhere in the city. “You can’t have a beat cop
on every corner, that’s unrealistic.” But, he added, the city
is looking at ways to direct recently announced federal funds
toward hiring 10 new officers to be used for community-policing
This plan will be released, he said, in a week or so.
want people in the city to recognize the hard work we have
put into the city over the past 15-plus years, and I think
that they will,” Jennings said. “I am not ready to give the
city up, ’cause we have a lot of work to do, and the people
in the city recognize that. The easiest thing for me to do
would be walk away.
who are objective will look at it realistically and say, ‘Are
we better off? Do we have more jobs? Do we have more opportunities
for our kids?’ I mean, that All-America City recognition wasn’t
something to take lightly. People from outside evaluated what
is going on here, and that was 350 cities that applied for
that. That is something we can be very proud of.”
loose ends this week-