ALBANY — One candidate joined the field of Albany mayoral candidates on the second-to-last day of qualifying, but the incumbent had not made her intentions known as of Thursday afternoon.
Omar Salaam qualified on Thursday morning to seek a four-year term as mayor. Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard also paid his qualifying fees for the November election.
For Salaam, 64, it is his second run for public office. He sought the Ward III Albany City Commission seat in the 1980s.
“I’ve been sitting around the political arena about 39 years,” he said. “I’ve been watching how government officials are doing business. I’ve noticed it’s not working for the entire city. We’ve got some parts of the city that are doing well, looking nice.”
Other parts of the city, however, are not doing so well, he said.
As mayor, Salaam said, he would seek to bring industry to the city to give opportunities to those who are challenged financially. New jobs also would help address the issue of idle young people and the street gangs that ensnare them.
When Salaam was a child, he said, there were gangs, but their activities were about things like singing on the street corner.
“When I was a young person in church, they told me an idle hand is the devil’s workshop,” he said. “You know, that’s true. We’ve got to take idle time away from the youth and give them something positive to do. That, in turn, will start to rescue some of the anger that they have in themselves.
“You can’t just say, ‘Stop the violence.’ You’ve got to have steps and direction in how to do this.”
The mayor should be an ambassador and cheerleader for the city to work with businesspeople all over the world, Salaam said.
“A mayor with a business mind approach and good common sense and with know-how to use good logic will go out into the world and seek these new industries or businesses to come into a particular area,” he said. “I’m willing to go out into the world and bring it to Albany.”
He suggested energy and logistics as two areas that are booming at the moment.
“There are a lot of new things coming,” he said. “The mayor can affect it if he goes out and seeks it.”
Another critical issue facing the city is utilities rates, Salaam said. He said he has never seen the anger that some have about high monthly bills.
“I think, for myself, I’ve been well-prepared for this (job),” he said. “I have a good vision for how things work. I’m willing to learn what I need to learn.”
On Monday, Edward Allen, Bo Dorough, Henry Mathis and James Pratt Jr. qualified to seek the mayor’s seat currently held by Mayor Dorothy Hubbard. Tracy Taylor qualified on Wednesday, making Salaam the sixth in the race.
Two candidates, John Hawthorne and Leroy Smith, have qualified to run in Ward VI, and Chad Warbington qualified on Wednesday to challenge incumbent Roger Marietta in Ward IV.
Qualifying continues Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the elections office, located at 222 Pine Ave., Suite 220.