SCHENECTADY — Councilman John Polimeni hasn’t detailed why he skipped the first step of the Schenectady Democratic endorsement process.
“I have a number of options available to me and I’m looking at all those carefully before I make a decision on anything,” Polimeni told The Daily Gazette. He declined to specify further.
In a Facebook post, Polimeni on Saturday asked social media followers if they would elect “someone who has fought for quality of life issues” and a “record of cutting taxes” for the Schenectady County Legislature.
Polimeni told Schenectady Democratic Chairman Tom Bellick late Friday night that he wouldn’t seek the city party’s endorsement. Six candidates were interviewed last Saturday.
“It was a last minute action on his part to tell me,” Bellick said. “No, I didn’t know he wasn’t [seeking an endorsement] until nine or ten o’clock on Friday night.”
In Polimeni’s Legislature district, set to expire this year are the terms of Richard Ruzzo and Richard Patierne. Both officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Polimeni was the third vote-getter during his first election to the City Council in 2015.
In the last year, Polimeni, a pharmacoeconomics professor, has butted heads with the City Council’s four-member progressive wing of color over COVID-19 federal relief (ARPA) spending, noise regulations, rent control and police budgeting.
Often standing in lockstep with Polimeni’s positions are council incumbents Doreen Ditoro and Carmel Patrick, both of whom — along with incumbent Carl Williams — advanced in the city Democrats’ nomination process Saturday. Recommendations from the group’s executive committee will go up for a vote before the 70-plus-member group in late January.
Mancini enters the race
Behind Hamilton Hill Neighborhood President Marva Isaacs, Joe Mancini is the second non-incumbent in the city this year to declare a bid for City Council. In Polimeni’s absence, the political neophyte passed the executive committee’s test for an endorsement recommendation.
“I didn’t learn that until after I was [recommended], but I guess it was an opportunity,” Mancini said about Polimeni’s absence from the executive committee meeting.
Mancini, 63, has served more than 35 years in criminal justice and juvenile services for Schenectady County. He was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 to supervise a juvenile aftercare program and later served on a state commission to raise the age of criminal responsibility.
Most recently, Mancini has worked as a senior program adviser for the Social Enterprise And Training Center, a State Street workforce development program for low-income and marginalized young people.
“He’s a hard worker,” said Bellick of Mancini. “I’ve known him a long time and respect him. I’m sure he’d do a fine job.”
In the past, he’s worked with Council President Marion Porterfield, in addition to council members Damonni Farley and John Mootooveren. Mancini said he spoke once with Polimeni.
If elected, Mancini believes he can mend the divide between moderate and progressive factions.
“I’ve always been pretty effective at building relationships,” Mancini said. “People right now are really stuck on their positions and point of view, and if we can all really agree that this is where we want Schenectady to go … now, we’re not always going to agree and it’s fine, but we align on this future vision and can we move in that direction and do this for the community and not us?”
The Schenectady Republican Committee, which resurrected last winter, is expected to unveil four council candidates at some point this month. The group is headed by GOP mayoral hopeful Matt Nelligan.
The Democratic executive committee on Saturday voted to endorse three-term incumbent Gary McCarthy. Porterfield, who has publicly weighed a potential run, told the Daily Gazette that she would make a final call after speaking with party officials over the Jan. 14-15 weekend.
Porterfield didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-527-7659 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil
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