Mayor Ann Thane spoke to residents of the River Ridge Living Center in Amsterdam on Wednesday about her campaign for re-election, outlining her past accomplishments and her vision for future projects to improve the city. She also gave a short history on how she first decided to run for mayor in 2007.
Thane credited her family as providing the early inspiration seek office.
“They loved to talk about politics,” said Thane. “My father’s family was republican and my mother’s family was democratic, so it made for very interesting dinners, very interesting conversations after dinner. And when I moved to Amsterdam I became very interested in what I saw happening locally.”
“I wasn’t seeing Amsterdam change in the ways I had expected. I thought if we keep doing the same things, we will never change. We have to change, we have to embrace a different direction,” said Thane.
“And I feel that in the past few years I really have been able to bring about tremendous physical change,” said Thane.
According to Thane, her administration has brought in nearly $27 million in grants. She pointed to improvements to the Bridge Street street-scape, repair of storm and sewer cross connections, and improvements to the city’s water filtration and waste water plants as examples of infrastructure work that has been completed using grants.
“I’ve really focused on getting grants for the work that we need to do,” said Thane.
Thane said that she also hopes to continue the process of seeking grants to move the train station from the west end of the city back to downtown Maint Street where it used to be.
She also listed improvements to the city’s parks, the opening of the Creative Connections arts center, and the recreation program at Bacon School as positive accomplishments during her term in office.
Thane also pointed to her success in working with Troy, Schenectady and Gloversville to cooperate in building a codes information sharing system to help track absentee landlords. She also cited her role in working with Schenectady to create the Capital Region Land bank, and said that 90 dilapidated buildings had been demolished under her administration.
The restoration of City Hall was another area that Thane said she had given needed attention to.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done. City Hall, when I took office, had not had any attention to its maintenance for probably 30 years,” said Thane. “The carpets were 30 years old. It hadn’t been painted…we were leaking cold air, the pipes were covered with asbestos. And we really have systematically set about every year, putting a little money into the building. It is beautiful now.”
“City hall is representative of our whole community. That’s where we should start taking care of things, we should start with our home which is City Hall,” said Thane.
Thane also cited work she has done to improve the city’s financial picture.
“My administration has brought a lot of new revenue into this community. I’m often painted as being very superficial, like I’m only interested in flowers or murals. And we have had flowers and murals and gardens and art…but in fact my real successes are in keeping the property taxes stable,” said Thane.
According to Thane, her administration had secured an increase in the city’s share of sales tax revenue from Montgomery County from 10% to 18%. She said she had also reworked agreements with the surrounding towns who utilize the city’s water to share sales tax revenues, as well as shifting the burden of the cost of the utilities.
“The property tax payers were shouldering much of the burden of the sewer and water distribution systems. So we re-worked the rates so that they were more evenly distributed between outside users in the towns and the commercial users. So residents aren’t paying so much of that bill,” said Thane.
To generate new revenue, Thane said, “I would like to bring the ambulance service in house and have our firemen do it. It would make the city $600,000 to $700,000 a year. It’s crazy that we don’t do it.”
Thane thanked the residents for coming to hear her speak and said she hoped they would all come out to vote in November.