Op-ed column: City is better than it was portrayed

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane responds to David Child’s Viewpoint column on decay and violence in that c

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane responds to David Child’s Viewpoint column (Aug. 30) on decay and violence in that city.

Dear David,

My experience of this city is radically different from yours. I live here, and have for more than 23 years. Mind you, I had aspirations for Manhattan or Paris, but God dropped me here and a love of this community has bloomed over these many years.

It started with my beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home, grew into a husband and two children, and expanded to include an amazing rainbow of friends I consider family. I’ve enjoyed our parks and swimming pools. I’ve been to every church and restaurant with my family. I’ve sweated to see that our children are provided for in our schools and that cultural opportunities thrive. I’ve used the services of physicians, dentists, mechanics and attorneys. I’ve been to countless parades, concerts and funerals.

I’ve had volunteer and professional experiences I never would have dreamed of that have been difficult and rewarding. This city has given me roots, pride and purpose.

When I decided to run for my office, I discovered that I knew much less about the community I had lived in for over two decades than I supposed. I realized that, though I’d driven down a street thousands of times, I’d never really seen it. Walking neighborhoods door-to-door opened up a view of Amsterdam that I will always treasure. Most homes, in every ward, are beautifully cared for and welcoming. I had no idea there were so many well-tended gardens, pristine porches or immaculate vestibules. I don’t know how many times I am going to have to repeat this, but we have a lovely little city.

Running for mayor

No one wants to pretend our shortcomings don’t exist; well, at least I don’t. I want our problems addressed. It’s why I decided to run for mayor. I couldn’t bear four more years of the same faces running the same game plan. My experience as a volunteer, freelance businesswoman and not-for-profit director allowed me the realization that my hard head and propensity for hard work might just work for all of us.

They are. And as painful as it may be for some to acknowledge, we’re making steady progress on all fronts: organization, funding, projects, collaboration and goals. Downtown alone has more than 30 property owners, volunteers and staff working to strategize, fund, beautify and promote the area. We refuse to fail. This community pulls together in tough times, be it to weather a church closing or to battle graffiti.

We are NOT the strictly derelict community you described. Though we have recently had a distressing incident in a local bar involving two visitors from Schenectady, we still can boast that we are one of the safest communities in the Capital District. Truth be told, the picture of the area you vividly illustrate represents only a very small section of our whole, beautiful city.

Reason for pride

Here’s the bottom line. We’re proud of what we are and we’re ready to spread the word to the surrounding region. We have a solid vision of what we may become, incentives to offer and amenities we enjoy. At the same time, we have more than enough to shout about . . . location, transportation, recreation, health care, public safety and, of course, those huge hearts of ours.

As for you, my dear friend David, the next time you are in town, I’d love to take a stroll with you some autumn day through the city of Amsterdam. I think we could have a jolly good conversation and I’d like to introduce you to my ever-expanding family.



Ann M. Thane is mayor of the city of Amsterdam. The Gazette encourages readers to submit material on local issues for the Sunday Opinion section.

Categories: Opinion

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