Marva Issacs drops bid for Schenectady City Council

Marva Isaacs speaks at a table during a meeting

FILE - Marva Isaacs, the president of the Hamilton Hill Neighborhood Association.

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SCHENECTADY — Marva Issacs, a community leader and long-time president of the Hamilton Hill Neighborhood Association, will no longer pursue a seat on the City Council after failing to gain the Democratic endorsement earlier this year. 

Issacs, 79, said Friday that she has no interest in mounting a primary challenge in an attempt to win one of four City Council seats up for grabs during this year’s election cycle, and will instead focus on the needs of the people living in her neighborhood. Council members Carl Williams, Doreen Ditoro, Carmel Patrick and John Polimeni are all up for reelection this year. 

“I have other things to do,” Issacs said. “I have to take care of my seniors in the community. I’m not going to fight with them for that.”

Issacs earlier this month announced she would be seeking a council seat because she had grown tired of the infighting between the all-Democratic council, which has been fractured between a progressive wing of color and a more moderate faction made up of white members.

Lawmakers, this past year, have clashed over the allocation process of millions in federal coronavirus-relief funding, police overtime spending and the last-minute postponement of a town-hall style meeting to gather input on housing issues. 

On one side of the disagreements have been Council President Marion Porterfield, Damonni Farley and Williams, who are Black, and John Mootooveren, who is Guyanese. Polimeni, Patrick and Ditorro, who are all white, make up the other faction. 

On more than one occasion, lawmakers have publicly accused each other of being racist and using their race as a way to shield themselves from criticism for bad policies. 

“There shouldn’t be ‘Black and white,’” Issacs said at the time. “Because if you cut me, the same blood is gonna run out. I don’t understand this nonsense.”

Earlier this month, the Schenectady Democratic Committee announced preliminary endorsements for Williams, Ditoro and Patrick, as well as political newcomer Joe Mancini. Polimeni did not seek the party’s endorsement and has not answered questions about his political future other than to say he is keeping his options open. 

On Friday, Issacs remained critical of the council’s infighting and said she has not decided whether she would formally endorse any candidate running for City Council. She has backed Mayor Gary McCarthy, who has said he plans to seek a fourth term and faces a potential primary from Porterfield, who has said previously that she was considering running.  

“The City Council is a mess and I don’t know who would want to sit there,” Issacs said. “People don’t like what’s going on there.”

The city’s Republican Committee has endorsed Kevin Hammer, Veerma Rai, and Bryan Barrett. A fourth candidate, Jeff Moore, was dropped from the ticket after The Daily Gazette uncovered a series of conspiracy theory-laden social media writing Moore posted to Facebook in recent years.

Matt Nelligan, the party’s chairman, announced last year that he would be seeking to unseat McCarthy in the race for mayor.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: News, Schenectady, Schenectady County

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