SCHENECTADY — City Republican Committee Chairman Matt Nelligan will attempt to unseat Gary McCarthy as mayor of the city. If successful, he’ll be the first Republican in two decades to serve in the post.
Nelligan on Tuesday announced a 2023 bid against Democrat McCarthy — an uphill battle in a deep blue city.
Nelligan was among three other candidates vetted by the party committee, which was resurrected earlier this year after a long hiatus. Having a heart attack in October ultimately influenced the 50-year-old’s decision to apply for the nomination.
“If you think you can make a difference, do it now because tomorrow’s never promised, right?” he said.
Nelligan will remain party leader for now, but hasn’t decided if he’ll stay in the role while pursuing a mayoral campaign. Second-in-command Tom Kennedy is likely to take the role if he steps down.
Since spring, Nelligan and other city Republicans have launched political salvos against McCarthy and the City Council’s progressive majority, convinced much of current lineup has failed to prioritize public safety and fiscal health.
“The neighborhoods are in trouble here and that’s where the crime is impacting people, that’s where the lack of good city services, the broken sidewalks, the messed up streets — they’re impacting people on a daily basis,” Nelligan said. “Gary’s doing nothing about those things.”
Nelligan moved to Schenectady in 2019. He currently lives on Central Parkway with his wife, Jackie, and their children.
In the coming year, he plans to grow political crisis communications firm Syndicate Strategies. The Watervliet-born candidate and ex-public school teacher has served as a state legislative aide and political operative for the last 14 years.
Nelligan helped rebirth the Schenectady GOP last February. The group first received widespread media attention in June after demanding the city administration replace the Black Lives Matter mural — deemed by Nelligan as an expensive tribute to a “Marxist organization”— to a more “patriotic” design.
Despite condemnation from city officials and social justice activists at the time, who accused the Schenectady GOP of spreading racism and false messages, the chairman hasn’t backed down from his position.
“He’s against that movement,” McCarthy said.
“I have been from day one as clear as a bell that I oppose the Black Lives Matter organization, not the movement, the organization,” Nelligan said, referencing the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
McCarthy has publicly discussed running for a fourth term since his third term began in 2020. He hopes to secure another round in office to pursue more neighborhood improvement projects, rein in more high-dollar development and boost the city’s image.
He welcomes a challenge from the opposition party.
“It’s an impressive record that I’m proud of,” McCarthy said. “And I look forward to having an open discussion and dialogue over my record in the accomplishments that we have and the progress that we’re going to make in the future.”
In his last race, McCarthy squeaked out a narrow primary victory against the progressive Working Families Party-nominated challenger Thearse McCalmon.
WFP’s local nomination process begins in February. Shawn Young, speaking on behalf of Schenectady WFP members, declined to comment. Young, a former WFP co-chair, is currently a member of the city’s Democratic Committee.
The mayor expects to announce a re-election bid “sometime after January 1st.” The Schenectady Democratic Committee expects to hold interviews for the local party’s nomination in two weeks and put a recommendation up for a vote later that month.
So far, no other candidate has applied for the nomination, according to Schenectady Democratic Committee Chairman Tom Bellick.
“We’re going to have a strong campaign and win,” Bellick said. “ … I don’t know the guy,” the Democratic chairman added about Nelligan.
Schenectady voters haven’t elected a Republican for any municipal office since the early 2000s. Following two-term independent candidate Vince Riggi’s re-election loss three years ago, the government has been fully Democratic.
The city GOP expects to endorse four candidates for Schenectady County Legislature and run four candidates for City Council. The vetting process started earlier in the fall.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, News, Schenectady, Schenectady County
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
“Schenectady voters haven’t elected a Republican for any municipal office since the early 2000s. Following two-term independent candidate Vince Riggi’s re-election loss three years ago, the government has been fully Democratic”.
And here lies the problem!