Up for the Challenge

Photo: Joe Putrock
Leah Golby will be the first candidate to challenge James Scalzo’s Common Council seat in 12 years

Leah Golby, a resident of Al bany’s Pine Hills neighborhood and a political activist, hit the streets Tuesday collecting signatures to run on the Democratic line for Albany Common Council representing the 10th Ward. Golby, the current co-vice president of the citywide Parent-Teacher Association, and a founding member of the Capital Region Transit Advocates, will be running against James Scalzo, who has represented the ward for 20 years and is the longest-seated Common Council member.

“Jimmy’s not doing what he needs to do,” Golby said.

Golby, who calls herself a lifelong Democrat, also has an endorsement from the Working Families Party. According to Golby, the party will petition for her to be added to the WFP line in November. Golby has also received an endorsement from advocacy group Citizen Action.

Golby is supporting mayoral candidate Shawn Morris, who spoke at Golby’s candidacy announcement. Common Council member Catherine Fahey from the 7th Ward and PTA president Mark Mishler also were on hand to speak in her support.

When Golby spoke of her opponent, she pointed to the 20 years that Scalzo has served on the Common Council: “When you do the same thing year in and year out you’ve kind of lost your steam,” Golby said. “I also wonder, what does a council member get out of sitting on a virtually powerless governing body for 20 years?”

Golby thinks that a challenge is due.

“Four years ago nobody challenged him, and during that period of time when nobody challenged him he made, in my opinion, two critical errors that affected city government,” she said. One of those mistakes, she said, was a vote striking down the Albany Civic Agenda, which she said would have given the Common Council significantly more power. The other involved the approval of a zoning change for a Walgreen’s on Holland Avenue in the 7th ward, which critics claim was a case of “spot zoning.”

“He didn’t feel the need to answer to his constituents or to the more active people in the constituency,” said Golby, who petitioned in support of the Albany Civic Agenda.

Golby said that while she had been considering a run for Common Council for a while, the increase in crime in the city—including the murders of Kathina Thomas and Richard Bailey—reinforced her decision.

“There’s a problem in this city,” she said, as a crumpled flier for Mayor Jennings lay just feet away on the ground. “We need change, we need new leadership all over this city, but this neighborhood has especially been neglected.”

Link to the original