Some people joke that politics in Rensselaer County, and Troy in particular, is a bloodsport. In many cases, reasonable public debate has been replaced by continual personal and political attacks, with the goal of discrediting opponents and silencing any dissent.
The current administration has adopted a "governance by press release" strategy, rather than working to foster productive relationships with its co-equal branch of government. Troy's citizens have been unfairly intimidated by certain members of the administration, and the Mayor refuses to hold anyone accountable for their actions. Words such as "retaliation" and "retribution" have become commonplace in our city vocabulary. As a result, Troy receives an inordinate amount of negative publicity, where the focus is on the dysfunction in city government, rather than the positive steps that we are taking to make Troy a better place to live.
Two years ago, I launched my campaign on a platform of reform and integrity.
Prior to my election in 2007, when news broke of an alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars to slander a councilperson running for re-election two years earlier, I publicly called on our City Council to conduct a full investigation into the matter, and I circulated a petition that was signed by hundreds of citizens who were outraged by this egregious abuse of the public trust.
When the Commissioner of Public Works abused his authority to shut down the Sanctuary for Independent Media because he disliked an art exhibit, I was the only Councilman who took a public stand against this, joining hundreds of protesters at City Hall to call on the Mayor to hold his Commissioner accountable for his actions. The Mayor's refusal to address this situation has led to a lawsuit against the city by the NYCLU.
When members of my own party were implicated in an absentee ballot fraud complaint, I publicly announced that I support a full investigation into the matter. Whether they are my own colleagues, or my opponents, we are all held to the same standard and must accept the consequences of our actions. If any Troy City Council members are found to have committed a crime, I will publicly and immediately call for their resignation.
As your elected representative, I will continue to hold myself and my fellow elected officials accountable to the highest ethical standards, and I will continue to call on the Mayor to reign in those members of his administration who are clearly abusing their authority or wasting taxpayer dollars on political chicanery.
Most recently, I co-sponsored an ordinance to amend Chapter 43 (Code of Ethics) of our City Code to strengthen our ethics laws and create a bi-partisan Ethics Commission. The law will take effect on January 1, 2012.
The days of politics by intimidation, pioneered by folks like Bob Mirch and left unchecked by the Republican administration, are drawing to a close. The "old boys" network is disintegrating, and I look forward to being a part of a renewed government that always places the interests of Troy's citizens above the interests of well-connected individuals.