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Dog running for Schenectady mayor

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Dog running for Schenectady mayor

A fourth mayoral candidate is entering the race, running as “Schenectady’s best friend.”
Dog running for Schenectady mayor
The 4th Candidate for City of Schenectady Mayor is Diamond with her owner Bill MacTiernan and campaign manager Kathy Fitzmaurice on the steps of City Hall Wednesday, July 1, 2015.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

A fourth mayoral candidate is entering the race, running as “Schenectady’s best friend.”

Her platform includes lowering the city’s property taxes, reducing crime and breaking down community barriers.

She likes bacon and walking around downtown — it’s her favorite place to poop.

She already has a cross-endorsement, from a cat.

Her name is Diamond. She’s a dog.

Animals can’t, of course, really run for elected office. But Diamond isn’t the first pet to be part of a mayoral campaign in Schenectady and add a bit of humor to the local politicking.

In 2007, a cat named Sparky ran for mayor. Roger, also a cat, ran in 2011, against Gary McCarthy and Roger Hull, who are facing off again this year. A dog named Loffredo ran in 1999.

Diamond, 13, decided to run for mayor because she has been leaving her mark on Schenectady for a few years now and feels she can do more if she were in office. At least that’s what Kathy Fitzmaurice, who describes herself as Diamond’s campaign manager, said.

“She feels the current administration is putting politics first as opposed to what is best for Schenectady,” Fitzmaurice said.

Diamond is running as a write-in candidate for mayor and, according to Fitzmaurice, feels it’s important to work with everybody to implement change in the city.

“She feels she could do a better job at breaking down the barriers in the community to tap into all of the resources everybody has to offer,” said Fitzmaurice, who owns the Katbird Shop on Liberty Street. Diamond’s campaign also calls for lower taxes and a fire hydrant on every block.

Fitzmaurice managed both of the cats’ campaigns in 2007 and 2011. She said having an animal run for mayor adds some fun to the race.

“It had started out as a joke that a friend of mine came up with,” she said. “He went out and had signs painted up, bumper stickers made and we got businesses in Schenectady to put up signs. Then in 2011 we decided we would run Roger just for fun to make things more light-hearted. Now we have Diamond.”

Bill MacTiernan, who lives above the Katbird Shop, adopted Diamond from the Animal Protective Foundation. Donations for Diamond’s campaign can be made in her name to the APF.

“Diamond is a rather old dog and this is a big undertaking late in her life, but she wants to run,” MacTiernan said. “She doesn’t get too excited these days, but when you tell her she’s running for mayor, she wags her tail.”

Roger, the cat who ran in 2011, received 15 write-in votes in that mayoral race. McCarthy, a Democrat, won with 4,792 votes — 89 votes more than Hull, the Alliance Party founder.

This year, in addition to McCarthy and Hull, there’s another human candidate in the race. Chris Gibbs, 27, a Brooklyn native, is planning to run as an independent candidate.

McCarthy said he looks forward to meeting Diamond on the campaign trail. “I assume our paths will cross in the campaign,” he said. “I look forward to how The Daily Gazette will structure the podium for all four of us to participate in the debate.”

The mayoral debate is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. in Proctors’ GE Theater.

Hull said he hoped having Diamond run for mayor would bring attention to improvements that need to be made at the city’s animal shelter.

“The city has done a disgraceful job for dog owners,” he said. “I think that’s an important issue.”

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