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Albany Alum Has Eye On City Council Seat

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A recent University at Albany alumnus is running for Albany City Council with the best interests of his future constituents in mind.

Alexander Thoma graduated from UAlbany in 2015 and is hoping to represent the city council’s 9th ward which covers much of the area from New Scotland Ave (Albany Med to St. Peter’s) to Hackett Blvd.

The city council — or legislative arm of the local government — handles topics such as ordinances, budgets, fiscal oversights and public safety.

There are 15 wards in the city of Albany and when a person runs for city council, they are assigned to whichever ward they reside in. For Thoma, the 9th ward has been home for almost his whole life.

“I’ve lived in the ward for 26 years whereas my opponent came to Albany for law school, and stayed for a career,” Thoma said.

Formerly a major in political science with a concentration in public law, Thoma is in his second semester of Albany Law School. While at UAlbany, he also minored in history.

“In order to understand politics you have to understand history,” he said.

Thoma’s influence to get involved stems from his time working for the Albany City School district, where he said said laborers were denied raises and adequate health care.

As an undergrad, he chose UAlbany because of the Rockefeller College. Thoma knew he wanted to continue his education beyond a bachelor’s degree and believed UAlbany would be a stable foundation for him to begin his career.

His slogan for his campaign is #peoplenotpolitics.

“We care about transparency, we care about ethics and we want to see real change,” Thoma said. “We cannot do politics as usual where we only care about the special interest.”

Running as an independent in an all democratic government could be a risk especially because in many elections, independent voters are ineligible to vote without a specific party affiliation. Thoma, however, is not concerned.

“Bernie won city, county, and ward as an independent even when independent voters couldn’t vote. It is possible to win as an independent,” he said.

One of the issues in the 9th ward as well as throughout the city of Albany is public safety.

“There are arising safety issues,” said Thoma. “Someone was robbed at Granny’s at gunpoint and another person showed up at the Mobil station in the same area with stab wounds.”

Aside from public safety, other issues he want to address if he wins are constituent outreach, economic development, and campaign finance.

“We need to find solutions to the issues that we keep litigating,” Thoma said.  

Constituent outreach is a major concern for the UAlbany alumnus who hopes to be able to form a more personal connection with his constituents rather than treating them as a “special interest” or a business deal.

Campaign financing is an issue that extends beyond just Albany. It can be seen throughout all branches of the government from the county to Washington D.C., regarding how much money politicians should ethically accept in terms of donations.

“We are only suggesting something minor such as a $20 donation at fundraisers,” said Thoma said of his own campaign.

Another change Thoma hopes to make is where each ward meeting is held. At these meetings, residents of that ward can voice their opinions or concerns, however the meetings  are held at city hall, which Thoma believes is unrealistic. Instead, they should be moved to areas in each individual ward, he suggested.

Additionally, Thoma hopes to influence younger people to become involved with politics especially on a local level.

“If we do not get involved and put our perspective on things, there will never be change,” he said.

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