After 20 years on the job, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings announced Tuesday night he would not seek a sixth term.
“My love for this city and my commitment to our children, our neighborhoods and the people who reside in them is boundless,” he wrote in a letter addressed to city residents and emailed to media outlets Tuesday evening. “Given this, the decision of whether to seek another term as your mayor has been one of the difficult evaluations I have ever faced. My family has been supportive; my trusted friends valued.
“After countless hours of deliberation and evaluation, I have decided not to seek re-election as your mayor. Although every day I still find joy in the work I do and in the people I serve, the time has come for a new chapter to be written.”
Jennings became the city’s 74th mayor after scoring a shocking upset in the 1993 Democratic primary. He is the city’s second longest-serving mayor, after Erastus Corning II, who served 11 terms and died in office in 1983.
Prior to his win, Jennings served 13 years on the city’s Common Council as a representative of the 11th Ward. Born and raised in Albany, he spent 21 years as a teacher and high school administrator for the Albany City School District.
His announcement leaves City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan and former City Councilman Corey Ellis, both Democrats, as leading contenders in the 2013 mayoral race.
In the letter to residents explaining his decision, Jennings pointed to a list of broad accomplishments during his tenure — economic development initiatives, youth programs, community policing, neighborhood revitalization, and securing millions of dollars in state and federal funding — “ensuring the fiscal stability of our city and lessening the burden on our taxpayers.”
“Albany’s future is bright, and from the bottom of my heart I want to thank each of you for the trust you have placed in me,” he wrote. “Collectively, we have done great things, and I have every reason to believe that we are well poised for continued growth and prosperity. Thank you for your understanding and years of support. I will always be your friend and the biggest supporter of our ‘All America City!’ ”
Under his tenure, the city saw the construction of new headquarters for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Comptroller’s Office, the state Dormitory Authority and the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Jennings’ critics, however, have pointed to the violence, blight and abandoned buildings that persisted in the city under his tenure.
In a statement Tuesday night, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said he looked forward to working with the city’s next mayor, but would not be making an endorsement yet.
“I am very happy for Mayor Jennings and his family,” said McCoy. “I know it was not an easy decision for him not to seek a sixth term. Jerry Jennings loves Albany. Residents have returned him to office five times. Mayor Jennings has always put kids first because of his background in the school district. We haven’t always agreed, but his passion for the city was unmatched.”