SCHENECTADY — As his third term as Schenectady’s mayor started three years ago, Gary McCarthy was already considering running for a fourth.
“In these positions, you always look at what you’re doing [with] long-range plans, so I’ve looked at it as a viable option for some period of time,” McCarthy said Tuesday.
The mayor plans to formally announce his candidacy early next year, he said. Should he win again, the Democrat will be the first Schenectady mayor in 30 years to serve four terms. He wants more time to attract high-dollar investments, pursue more neighborhood improvement projects and raise “the overall image of Schenectady.”
“We’ve reversed the image that existed 15 or 20 years ago where Schenectady was a joke,” McCarthy said. “Now, people take this community seriously.”
No primary challengers have yet declared to face McCarthy. In the 2019 Democratic primary, McCarthy squeaked out a 105-vote win against Working Families Party-nominated challenger and political newcomer Thearse McCalmon.
“It’s part of the process and you can’t necessarily let some of those things determine what you’re gonna do,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy supporter and Schenectady Democratic Committee Chairman Tom Bellick doesn’t believe anyone in the party should challenge McCarthy.
“I don’t approve of that,” Bellick said. “Primaries are a big waste of time and money in my estimation.”
So far, Schenectady Working Families Party Committee Representative Chad Putman doesn’t know of anyone within the progressive third party interested in challenging McCarthy. WFP’s endorsement interview process typically begins early each year.
The recently resurrected Schenectady Republican Committee hopes to have a challenger against McCarthy in the general election. The group plans to interview potential candidates for its 2023 roster next week at Katie O’Byrnes Irish Pub.
“This mayor has checked out,” said city GOP Chairman Matt Nelligan, referencing tensions between the party’s progressive and moderate wing at recent City Council meetings. “This mayor is essentially AWOL when it comes to leadership.”
Republicans face a major enrollment disadvantage in the city. Schenectady hasn’t had a GOP mayor in 19 years.
McCarthy hasn’t faced off in a competitive general election since his first bid for the seat in 2011 against Alliance Party founder Roger Hull. McCarthy won by 89 votes in what local historian Don Rittner at the time called likely the closest race since Dutch Colonial days.
Prior to winning his first mayoral term, McCarthy — a former councilman — had served a short-lived role as acting mayor after Brian U. Stratton left the office to head the New York State Canal Corporation in 2011.