By Paula Katinas and Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With Mayor Michael Bloomberg about to leave office at the end of the year, excitement and speculation are building about the upcoming mayoral race.
Some of the mayoral hopefuls have been known to the public for some time: City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, former Comptroller William Thompson Jr., Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Now, former Councilman Salvatore F. Albanese (D-Bay Ridge) has officially thrown his hat into the ring.
Albanese filed his official paperwork with the New York City Campaign Finance Board for a run for mayor and said he will compete in the Democratic primary in September. Albanese, a maverick who received seed money for his mayoral campaign from a personal loan, has already hired campaign staff. Chris McCreight is his campaign manager and Todd Brogan is the communications director.
In his official announcement, Albanese touted his independence. "The world's greatest city, New York City, deserves a government that works for all New Yorkers. That starts with a mayor who is independent from party bosses and special interests, who isn't afraid to be honest with the people, and who is focused on the issues New Yorkers care about most,” he said.
In an interview with the Eagle, Albanese also proposed an unusual (for New York) idea: Nonpartisan elections for mayor. “In California, most mayors are nonpartisan. Only two major cities in the United States don’t have nonpartisan elections: New York City and Philadelphia. This will help to promote independent candidates and reach a consensus.”
The former councilman said that during his years in city government, he was often at the forefront on issues such as human rights. “I stood up for LGBT rights in the 1980s. I fought to give our workers a living wage in the 1990s. I put more police on our streets to keep the city safe. And I was a key supporter of term limits, which were scuttled for political gain in 2008,” he said.
During his 15 years on the council, he served on the Education Committee, since he was a former teacher, as well as the Public Safety Committee. He also went to law school while serving as a councilman.
Albanese ran for mayor once before, in 1997. “There were five of us [in the Democratic primary],” he said. “I received 22 percent of the vote. I had very little money and very little name recognition. We were able to reach the matching-money benchmark two weeks before the primary. David Garth [a well-known political consultant] told me that I would have won the primary if I had two more weeks.”
Albanese was born in Calabria, Italy, in 1949. At the age of eight, he moved to Park Slope “when it was a working-class neighborhood.” He graduated from John Jay High School in 1967. In one interview, he remembered how he knew he needed to get serious as a student because he was to pass three subjects to play on the varsity baseball team.
He received his B.A. in Education from York College in 1972, around the same time that he got married and moved first to Bensonhurst and then to Bay Ridge. He earned an M.A. in health from New York University in 1976 and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1990. He is also a member of the New York State Bar and holds financial services licenses.
Albanese worked as a teacher for 11 years, at times working with students with drug problems and other serious difficulties, before running for the City Council in 1982. He defeated a 21-year incumbent and went on to win re-election in the 43rd District in Bay Ridge four times before running for mayor. He ran for mayor again in 2001 but dropped out of the race.
For the past 15 years, he has worked in the private sector. For the last nine years, he worked for Mesirow Financial and held the title of managing director. Sal lives in Bay Ridge with his wife of 40 years, Lorraine Albanese. They have two daughters.
Asked why he wants to become mayor, he said,
On his mayoral rivals, he says, “I have no criticisms of them at this time, but I think I’d be a better mayor.”