Posted at: 05/14/2013 7:30 PM
Updated at: 05/15/2013 12:36 AM
By: Jessica Layton
ALBANY - Mayor Jerry Jennings has finally answered the question that reporters and the people of Albany have been asking for months.
And after twenty years, the 64-year-old has decided it's time to walk away from the job of mayor.
He's not discussing his decision with reporters in person yet, but in a statement, he said:
"After countless hours of deliberation and evaluation, I have decided not to seek re-election as your mayor. 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. I will always be your friend and the biggest supporter of our 'All America City!'"
In the past several weeks, Jennings has been careful not to show his political hand in whether he'd be running.
Wednesday night the Albany County Democratic Committee meets to endorse candidates, so those who've worked with the mayor, say the timing of his announcement makes sense - but was still a bit of a surprise.
At any city event over the past twenty years, you would have been hard pressed not to spot a smiling Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings - often cracking a joke, always surrounded by an entourage of supporters.
He's about to have more time to spend surrounded by his biggest fans - his family.
“I don't know how he did everything that he did,” says Dominick Calsolaro of the Albany Common Council.
Jennings' colleagues call him one of the hardest working public servants they've met - acknowledging the decision against running for a 6th term must have been difficult.
“Deciding to run for office or even to decide to run for re election it’s never an easy decision – it’s a very personal decision. You have to take into consideration your family, friends, impact on personal life,” said Albany Common Council member, Richard Conti.
Jennings referenced the countless hours of deliberation in the statement he released to media and city leaders Tuesday evening. Common Council members admitted the email announcement caught them a bit off guard.
On Saturday the mayor went before the Albany Democratic Party to seek approval to run for re-election. But it was clear - he wasn't convinced running for another four years was the right move.
“I'm vetting it, looking at it, making some decisions,” the mayor said at the time. “I just want to make sure I do the right things for my family and myself and basically the city.”
Jennings will be known as a mayor who pushed to revitalize the city, attract businesses along the water front, and take care of children through youth programs.
“I think he will leave behind a record he can be proud of,” said Conti.
A political legacy Common Council colleagues say they Albany won't forget.
“Nobody worked harder than him. We had our differences but..I don’t think there was anyone who put in more hours than he put in,” said Calsolaro.
Kathy Sheehan announced her candidacy for the mayor’s job back in November. While she expected she would be challenging the mayor, she had nothing but praise for the job he’s done.
“I certainly didn’t know it was going to go this way tonight, but we have a mayor who has served our city for 20 years. He is an incredible public servant, and he has created a legacy that will be long remembered,” said Sheehan.
We also reached out to mayoral candidate Corey Ellis. He says he was surprised by the announcement but thinks Mayor Jennings is doing what's best for him and his family.
Marlon Anderson - yet another mayoral candidate - says Jennings has given his life to this city and his presence will be sorely missed.