State Assembly District 109: Six Democrats run on Primary Day, one Republican readies for November

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Candidates’ forum: Ginnie Farrell answers a question as Owusu Anane, at left, and Jack Flynn and Dustin Reidy, at right, wait their turn.

ALBANY COUNTY — Four members of the Albany Common Council —  Owusu Anane, Ginnie Farrell, Jack Flynn, and Gabriella Romero — and two members of the county legislature — Andrew Joyce and Dustin Reidy — are facing off against each other in the Democratic primary on June 25 to represent the 109th District in the State Assembly.

Democrat Patricia Fahy faced a similarly crowded field a dozen years ago when Jack McEneny retired from representing the 109th; Fahy hasn’t had a primary challenge since and has won each biennial election handily.

Fahy is aspiring to replace the retiring Neil Breslin in the State Senate. As an assemblywoman, she focused on education, the economy, and the environment.

The 109th District includes all of Albany (population 101,000), all of New Scotland (population 9,000) and most of Guilderland (population 37,000). All three municipalities are heavily Democratic.

Republican Alicia Purdy is unchallenged for the GOP and Conservative lines and will be running against the chosen Democratic candidate in November.

While Purdy ran against Fahy two years ago, all of the Democrats are making their first run for the post.

On June 4, the NAACP held a candidates’ forum in a packed basement meeting room of Milne Hall on the downtown University at Albany campus.

Over the course of two hours, about 150 people listened to the six Democrats and one Republican respond to three scripted questions and four questions from the audience read by Zion DeCoteau from News 10 ABC and Fox 23.

The scripted questions asked the candidates what would be their first proposed legislation; how to address the perpetual shortage of police officers and their thoughts on police reform and community policing; and what policies they’d advocate to address social and racial inequality.

The audience questions were on addressing food deserts in Albany; how to handle “the migrant issue” as it relates to additional funding and support for non-profits; how to work with colleagues “across the aisle”; and how to address each candidate’s greatest obstacle to success. 

“That was some civilized political discourse,” said DeCouteau at the close of the session.

The Enterprise is profiling each of the candidates below based on  their campaign information and comments they made at the June 4 forum.


Owusu Anane

Owusu Anane, who represents the Pine Hills neighborhood on the Common Council, writes on his Facebook page that he was inspired by volunteering for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and says he is “ready to lead Albany with dedication and vision. Together, let’s make history by electing the Capital district’s first Black state legislator.”

He also writes of his 2019 call for “SUNY Polytechnic Institute to pay the City of Albany $1 million which they had committed to” and notes that over 60 percent of the properties in Albany don’t pay property taxes because they are government or nonprofit entities and the city residents have to make up the difference.

Anane, who has a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany, teaches special-needs students in public school.

During the forum, he said, “My dad came to this country with $50 … He never took a handout. He worked his butt off.”

Anane said New York, as the state with the Statue of Liberty, should welcome newcomers.

“We are all immigrants,” said Anane, whose family hails from Ghana.

Immigrants, he said, “represent the best this country has to offer.”

If elected, Anane said, he would push for after-school programs for kids or for giving vouchers to parents.

“We need to offer educational opportunities and economic opportunities,” he said.

He also said that, in his youth, he had wanted to be a police officer but stop-and-frisk procedures changed that.

“That dream died,” he said.

“We’ve had generations of systemic racism … We need to change the culture,” Anane said.

To attract more officers, he suggested both a cadette program in middle schools and pay raises.

On addressing inequality, Anane said, speaking as the only African-American in the race, “We have to tax the ultra-rich.”

He spoke of redlining in Albany and said, while campaigning in the 3rd Ward, “I almost cried.”

Taxing billionaires to provide programs and job opportunities for poor people would “give people a sense of hope.”

He concluded, “What’s good for the South End should be what’s good for Guilderland.”

On food deserts, Anane said he was instrumental in lifting the ban on raising chickens in the city.

He acknowledged that the South End grocery store was mismanaged and said government oversight is needed.

“Our kids are going to school hungry,” Anane said.

Asked about working across the aisle, Anane said that he would willingly work with “common-sense Republicans.”

“I would not bend a knee for MAGA Republicans,” he said. “That would not happen.”

Anane said he would look for common ground.

He said he makes himself accessible to 10th Ward residents with his “Councilman on the Corner” initiative and promised, as an assemblymember, he would hold regular town-hall style meetings in his district.

“You have to bring resources to your district,” he said, adding, “We need to promote home ownership.”

Anane concluded that, as a public school teacher and the son of immigrants from Ghana, he would fight for constituents and their families at the state capitol.

He concluded he’d like to be Albany’s first Black representative in the State Assembly.

“I’m young, Black, and educated,” said Anane. “I’m Donald Trump’s worst enemy.” 

Ginnie Farrell

Ginnie Farrell, who represents Albany’s 13th Ward, works in the State Assembly as the legislative analyst for the Environmental Conservation Committee in the office of the committee’s chairwoman, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.

Farrell began her work in the Assembly with Assemblywoman Pat Fahy. 

She has a degree in art history from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Farrell formerly served on the Albany City School Board as her three children went through that system.

At the forum, Farrell said, if elected, her first legislative action would be environmental.

She said microplastics have been found in all parts of the human body and that plastic chemicals cloud the Adirondacks.

“Right now,” she said, “it’s hard for us to make choices” since the public isn't informed about the dangers, for example, of drinking water from plastic bottles.

On police, Farrell noted that, after the murder of George Floyd, she had served on a police reform committee.

She suggested looking at the Taylor Law to get police living in the communities in which they patrol.

“For a lot of people, a police officer is not accessible,” Farrell said.

She also said the officers have to be trusted. “We have to be able to build trust again.”

On addressing equality, Farrell said, redlining has led to poor neighborhoods.

She said that difficult conversations need to be had “to lead to action.”

On food deserts, Farrell said, “It’s not OK … buying food matters.”

She also said that every neighborhood deserves to feel safe.

On immigration, Farrell said, “These are people that are coming here because they are unsafe in their homes … Let’s give them a safe space.”

She suggested shortening the length of time until they can work. And, noting that she has served on the Albany City School Board, Farrell said schools need to have the support to educate migrants’ children successfully.

On working across the aisle, Farrell noted her expertise from her job at the State Assembly and gave a primer on how legislation for specific locations “does move.”

Noting her role as majority leader for the Common Council, Farrell said, “You have to be collaborative.”

“The greatest obstacle is the learning curve,” said Farrell of serving in the State Assembly, asserting that she knows the ropes having worked there for 12 years.

She also said that to make long-term change “looking at the budget formula itself” is essential.

She concluded, because of her work history, “I have the relationships to hit the ground running.”

Jack Flynn

Jack Flynn’s opening statement at the forum was about being raised by a single mother, who now lives in a Guilderland nursing home.

“She needs help,” he said, stating that, if elected to the State Assembly, he wants to focus on nursing homes and seniors.

After his father died of leukemia, Flynn — one of five children — moved with his mother to the 8th Ward, which he now represents.

He has an associate’s degree from Hudson Valley Community College and spoke of his work both in the private sector, managing a theater at Crossgates Mall, and in the public sector.

If elected, Flynn said the first legislation he would propose would be to get help for nursing home staff.

To increase recruitment and retention of police, he recommended making salaries the same.

Officers get trained in Albany, he said, and then move on to more lucrative jobs in the suburbs.
“We’re training them for $20,000 and in two weeks, they’re hitting the road,” said Flynn.

He also recommended changing the Taylor Law to give incentives to police officers that “actually reside in the area” where they work.

On equality, Flynn said that, when he chaired Albany County’s Democratic Committee, he advocated for diversity.

He also said more programs are needed in schools to combat racism and hate.

“Get our youth involved,” said Flynn.

On food deserts, Flynn said people are leaving the city because of crime.

He recommended free school breakfasts and lunches for all students.

He also said that community gardens are “a great way to have healthier eating.”

On immigration, Flynn said, “We are a land of opportunity.” He said of migrants, “They want to work. They want to be on the tax rolls, raise a family.”

Flynn said he was the only candidate in the race not taking campaign funding from the state and would rather see that money go to programs for migrants.

On working across the aisle, Flynn said, again as the former chairman of the county’s Democratic committee, he is well aware that New Scotland, Guilderland, and Albany are all controlled by Democrats, calling it “one team.”

He also said, “At the end of the day, you’ve got to make deals … You’ve got to go to the war room.”

The greatest obstacle, Flynn said, is enhancing senior programs. He said that New Scotland wants a bus to transport seniors, and programs in Guilderland, like yoga, should be funded.

In his closing statement, Flynn said he has lived in Albany for almost 38 years and is familiar with Guilderland, where his mother lives and where he worked, and with New Scotland, where he takes his dog to the vet.

“I have 15 years in the private sector and 15 years in the public sector,” concluded Flynn.

Andrew Joyce

Andrew Joyce, serving his third term in the county legislature, represents a district that includes parts of Albany, Slingerlands, and Bethlehm.

He formerly chaired the legislature and, at the forum, he responded to most of the questions by citing the work the legislature has done.

Currently a major in the New York National Guard, Joyce was previously an enlisted soldier, serving tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications and lives in Albany with his wife and their two children.

“We are in the midst of a real mental health crisis,” said Joyce when asked what his first legislation would address.

This crisis disproportionately affects veterans, “people that I know,” said Joyce.

On policing, Joyce cited the ACCORD — Albany County Crisis Officials Responding and Diverting —  program, which has mental health experts answering calls where they can help rather than just police.

It lets police officers focus on crime, said Joyce, concluding, “It has saved lives.”

He also said, “We have to capture the youth and espouse the virtues of public-service careers.”

Along with that, Joyce  said, “We can also stop vilifying cops.”

On inequality, Joyce said that, when he was elected chairman of the county legislature, he realized “we had giants” in the civil rights movement.

He said he directed the creation of a Black Caucus to raise their voices.

Joyce also noted that the pandemic exposed a lot of inequities and recommended, “You direct the resources where they’re needed.”

On food deserts, Joyce noted that the county executive, Daniel McCoy, is from the South End. And he spoke of the grocery store that was started there. “Unfortunately, it failed,” said Joynce.

But, he went on, “One of the things we learned: It’s hard to run a grocery store.”

He concluded, “We need to bring in the industry experts.”

On immigration, Joyce spoke of the need to call on relevant agencies to fund the needed measures.

As opposed to the “Felon-in-Chief,” he said, referencing Donald Trump, migrants should be welcomed.

On working across the aisle, Joyce said, “I’ll tell you what I’ve done.”

When he chaired the county legislature, Joyce said, he named a Republican deputy chair and Republican committee chairs with the goal of creating “a bipartisan utopia.”

“It didn’t work,” he said.

But, Joyce went on, party lines will fall away when you’re working on a good idea.

He cited as an example work that he did with a bipartisan committee helping to integrate Afghans into the community.

In his concluding remarks, Joyce noted he was wearing a Pride pin on his lapel and said he was happy about a bill he worked on that let veterans who worked during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” period to get benefits.

Joyce also spoke of the “shameful history” of setting districts that were unfair to racial minorities and said he was proud of working with the League of Women Voters on independent redistricting that is fair.

Dustin Reidy

Dustin Reidy, who lives in Guilderland, is serving his second term in the county legislature where he is deputy majority leader. He chairs Guilderland’s Democratic Committee.

Reidy, who graduated from Skidmore College and started his career in healthcare, now works as campaign manager for Congressman Paul Tonko.

Reidy said, if elected, his first legislation would be to fight climate change and protect the environment.

As someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, he said, he’s keenly aware of the longer allergy season.

Reidy said he would also fight climate injustice.

On dealing with the perpetual shortage of police officers, Reidy said, “Our state is lacking when it comes to child care.”

It is particularly difficult, he said, for people who don’t work 9-to-5 jobs to find child care. He cited a pilot project proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that would provide federal funding to care for the children of police officers.

Reidy said that 20 percent of officers are looking to leave law enforcement and there should be investment in tools that they need.

On inequality, Reidy said he would look through the lens of how to lift up the most vulnerable.

During the pandemic, he said, the federal income tax credit, which has since ended, raised children out of poverty. New York state, he said, needs to expand tax credits.

Reidy also said he would work towards universal pre-kindergarten.

On food deserts, Reidy cited a report from the state comptroller that said one in nine families in New York suffer from food insecurity.

Reidy said he is proud of the county legislature working with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

On immigration, Reidy said, “We’re a nation of immigrants. I support the asylum seekers.”

He said they come for three reasons: to seek safety, to follow the American Dream, and because they want jobs.

He recommended making it easier and quicker for asylum seekers to work.

Reidy asserted that the major impediment to reform is on the federal side and urged, “Send Joe Biden back to the presidency.”

On working across the aisle, Reidy said there was agreement on a lot of policies but the salient point is “who will deliver.”

Reidy said he had built coalitions in the county legislature and was proud that the gun legislation he authored, called DISCOVER, for Detailed Instruction Supporting COmmunity Violence Education and Reduction, had bipartisan support.

“Everyone supported it,” he said.

Reidy also said he was the candidate supported by elected officials in each municipality in the 109th District and noted he also had “strong union support.”

Reidy said the greatest obstacle is “knowing what to advocate for.”

He has knocked on doors throughout the district, Reidy said, and would “bring every voice to the table.”

In his closing statement, Reidy said, “I’ve delivered for this district as a county legislator.”

Gabriella Romero

Gabriella Romero, an Albany County public defender who serves on the Common Council, has the Working Families Party line.

A graduate of Union College and Albany Law School, Romero is a felony trial attorney, representing clients in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.

“This work allows her to understand the criminalization of poverty and food insecurity/housing insecurity, and exposes her to the programming in need of reform,” says her Common Council profile.

If elected, Romero said, her first legislation would be to reach climate goals. She supports the NY HEAT (New York Home Energy Affordable Transition) Act, which would reduce the number of new natural-gas hookups while ensuring that customers don’t pay for it.

She also supports another Fahy-backed bill that would require the media to let people know if artificial intelligence is used.

Romero also said, “Right now, we’re in a health-care crisis.”

On police, Romero said, as opposed to some of the other candidates, that looking at the Taylor Law would decrease the number of police officers.

She also said that police officers are subject to intense trauma and intense violence, and therapy needs to be offered to make sure the officers that exist get help.

She suggested setting up a proactive street team so that calls for things like a flat tire or a cat in a tree wouldn’t have to be handled by police.

On equality, Romero said she is the current chair of the New York State Young Democrats  Hispanic/Latine Caucus, which introduced the idea of a commission to look at where the war on drugs hurt Black and brown communities.

On food deserts, Romero said, “Food in many ways is health care.”

She would like to work with local farmers and also work with the private sector to place bodegas in neighborhoods that lack grocery stores.

Romero supports funding universal breakfast, lunch, and dinner for students.

Unlike several of the candidates who answered the question on immigration before her, using the word “immigrants,” Romero said, “They are asylum seekers.”

She also said, “The United States is a place for everyone.”

She praised the work of nonprofit organizations that are helping asylum seekers. 

“They’re really, really struggling,” she said.

When she was a student at Albany Law School, Romero said, she helped asylum seekers who were housed at Albany County’s jail.

She supports the Invest In Our New York campaign, taxing billionaires 2 percent more.

On working across the aisle, Romero noted Democrats are powerful in the legislature; Democrats have supermajorities in both houses.

Romero said she has worked with a broad coalition and got things passed in the Common Council by being an organizer.

She said the greatest obstacle is getting fair funding for Albany, New York’s capital city. 

“We’re at the will of the state,” she said. “Sixty-four percent of our property is nontaxable.”

In her closing statement, Romero said that a vote for her is a vote for universal child care, for robust worker rights, for free college education, and for people over profit.


Alicia Purdy

Alicia Purdy has both the Republican and Conservative party lines in her bid to represent the 109th District.

She ran unsuccessfully against Assemblywoman Fahy two years ago.

​​The daughter of a Greenville minister, Purdy has lived most of her life in the Capital Region and now lives in Albany with her husband and five children, whom she has homeschooled.

After graduating from Geneva College, she earned a master’s degree in journalism and has worked as a journalist, she told The Enterprise when she ran for the 109th two years ago.

Before that, in 2021, she was defeated in a GOP bid to be Albany’s mayor.

Purdy says she was frequently asked who won the 2020 presidential election. “I will give you the answer I give everyone …,” she told The Enterprise. “I accept that Joe Biden is the president, and I don’t think it matters at this point.”

At the June 4 forum, Purdy frequently pointed out differences between her views and those of the six Democratic candidates.

If elected, she said her first piece of legislation would be on “governmental transparency.”

She said citizens need to know how their money is “really being spent.”

Purdy said that, even with her journalistic background, she recently had trouble accessing voting records for county legislators and surmised that citizens would encounter similar hurdles.

On police, Purdy said, her approach is to “work on a way to facilitate peace.”

She said that the Albany Police Department is currently down 80 officers and she would work to “create a more comprehensive police officer.”

This comprehensive officer, she said, would be versed in mental-health issues and would be better at negotiations.

On equality, Purdy said, she would listen and care, and advocate for her constituents.

She described herself as “someone who cares about people more than politics.”

Purdy also said she would advise constituents to show up and advocate for themselves.

On food deserts, Purdy said New York has enough money to address the problem.

As the mother of five children, Purdy said she “used to live on SNAP,” referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which was formerly known as food stamps.

She lives in the Beverwyck neighborhood where “crime is driving us to a food desert,” Purdy said.

She “wants to facilitate small businesses that have a heart to feed people.”

On immigration, Purdy said she disagreed with the Democratic candidates who said simply, “We are a nation of immigrants.”

Purdy said, “We are a nation of immigrants who became citizens.”

She said the legal path to citizenship matters.

It is important to see that New Yorkers are funded to make sure they have housing and food, said Purdy.

On working across the aisle, Purdy said, “I don’t want to become part of a cluster of like-minded lemmings.”

She said her approach is one of “common sense” and she has “no political ties.”

Purdy also said, “For me, personally, very little is off the table.”

Asserting that the six Democratic candidates offered similar views, Purdy said the greatest obstacle is “lack of thought diversity.”

“I’m not running as a Republican,” said Purdy, stating she was “a fresh voice.”

In her closing statement, Purdy said, “My three goals are peace, prosperity, and the potential of New Yorkers to grow in their lives.”


Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Primary Day, June 25.

Early voting runs from Saturday, June 15, through Sunday, June 23, with voting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday.

Local early voting locations are at the Berne firehouse at 30 Canaday Hill Rd.; at the Parish Hall of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 85 Elm Ave. in Delmar; at the North Bethlehem firehouse at 589 Russell Rd.; at the Guilderland Public Library at 2228 Western Ave.; and at the Lynnwood Reformed Church at 3714 Carman Rd. in Guilderland.


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