I am running to represent District 29 in the Albany County Legislature

To the Editor:

I am honored to have been endorsed unanimously as the Democratic candidate for Albany County Legislature, 29th District, which places my name on the election ballots, Nov. 5.

I have also just received the designation from the New York Working Families Party for the same position. I believe that this award from the Working Family Party documents my leadership for the past 20 years, and my vision for the future.

I was born and raised in uptown Albany, graduated from the Milne School, and spent four rather productive, active years at Syracuse University. I served as a sports columnist for the Daily Orange, and switched my major from journalism to political science.

I spent a busy four years following graduation, fulfilling my six-month military obligation followed by my five-and-a-half years with the Army Reserve with a Combat Engineer unit based in Schenectady. This was followed by jobs with a wholesale paper distributor, claims adjuster, and graduate studies with the New School in New York City. During this time, I started dating and eventually married the love of my life, Katherine Dee.

We moved back to Albany in 1965, so I could join the family paper distributor, and in 1970 with three children under 5 years old, I started my involvement in local politics. At first, I was involved in several ill-fated reform groups — CARE, AIM, NDC.

Then, in 1970, I was offered a committee position with the Colonie Democrats, which I accepted. That year I developed “political itch” and challenged the Democratic organization in Colonie for a Republican County Legislative seat. That degree of political audacity was not accepted, and I was trounced. I had no experience, little support, and hardly any money.

I rejoined the party, and the next year was promoted to district (ward) leader. I had to slow down my political involvement, for everybody’s sake.

In 1975, we moved to Guilderland, so my youngest son, Michael, could be enrolled in Wildwood programs. I later served on Wildwood’s board.

A favorite saying of mine has been: “I joined the Albany Democrats to reform them. In the end, they changed me more than I changed them.”

Spending a lifetime working in the private sector, in sales and management, I have continued to have a hand in the community, having raised three children, and working in the Democratic committee as district leader as well as other community programs.

I was part of ending the Republican stranglehold on town politics and the town has benefitted from that.

Working on the boards of the Wildwood School and Colonie Human Relations Council provides an understanding and respect for the problems and positions of others. I have also been a member of the Guilderland Planning Board for 18 years.

Forty-one-and-a-half years later, I am still living in Guilderland. My love, Kathy, passed away in 2015 from lung cancer. Our neighbors and friends have been wonderful to us. So has the Democratic leadership under the late Dave Bosworth and now Jake Crawford.

James Cohen


More Letters to the Editor