The race is on for three Schenectady City Council seats — and because one is vacant, the Republicans are hoping to pick up a slot.
The Democrats are running two incumbents.
The third incumbent, Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard, is not running for re-election. She had a stroke last September and has been unable to return to the council.
In her place, the Democrats are running John Mootooveren, who ran for the council in 2011 and was narrowly defeated. He was considered a strong contender for last year’s council race, but he stepped aside in favor of Marion Porterfield to end a growing feud between his supporters and hers.
On the Republican side, a woman who has wanted the endorsement for years is finally running for office.
Mary McClaine, a longtime critic at City Council meetings, was endorsed by the Republicans. She had sworn earlier this year that she would keep asking for the endorsement until her dying day.
Chairman Michael Cuevas said the Republican Committee had hesitated to endorse her because she once switched parties and asked the Democrats to endorse her. “They needed to be clear that was an error of judgment that would not be repeated,” he said.
He added that McClaine was a familiar name.
“Everyone knows she is not afraid to take on members of the council,” Cuevas said.
The committee also endorsed Joseph Lazzari, who ran for sheriff in 2009.
He worked as a Schenectady police officer for 25 years, from 1979 to 2004, rising to the rank of detective. He also served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.
Cuevas said Lazzari was a strong candidate because of his police and military background.
“He’s vary familiar with public safety issues,” Cuevas said, adding that Lazzari will propose ways to reduce crime in the city.
Also endorsed was newcomer Joseph Kelleher, who recently moved to the city. He grew up in Saratoga County.
Kelleher is a computer specialist who works for Automate Dealerships, a computerized program for local car dealerships.
Cuevas said he was pleased that Kelleher lives in the Central State Street neighborhood, “which is a territory we need some help in.”
The Democrats endorsed council members Carl Erikson and Marion Porterfield, as well as Mootooveren.
Porterfield ran for office last year after being appointed to fill a vacant seat. She must run again this year for a full four-year term.
Erikson is running for his second term. He had expressed worries that he might not be endorsed by the Democrats, citing criticism from some committee members who objected to his occasional criticism of proposed legislation.
But the committee endorsed him without much debate.
Chairman Richard Naylor said he felt the Democratic ticket was particularly strong this year. He noted that all three candidates work in different fields — Mootooveren is an accountant, Erikson works in purchasing for General Electric, and Porterfield is a “community worker,” Naylor said.
And he’s happy that they represent three of the biggest demographic groups in the city.
Porterfield is black, Erikson is white, and Mootooveren is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana.
“They all come from different neighborhoods,” he added. “There’s a lot of diversity. They represent a lot of different people in the city. It addresses the changing population in the city — it’s good to have different kinds of people.”