Campaigning is not governing

To the Editor:

Whoever wins the District 30 race for Albany County Legislature on Tuesday, the residents of our district cannot lose. Both Dustin Reidy and Steve Wickham have stated they would have voted “yes” on the paid sick-leave legislation and I believe each have an equally strong claim to progressive bonafides.

That doesn’t mean there is no reason to vote for one candidate over the other. One has run a campaign on politics of substance and one has not. That’s why I’ll be voting for Steve Wickham on Tuesday.

I want to reiterate that Dustin Reidy is a solid liberal whose voting record would likely be almost identical to Steve’s if he wins. However, as a voter, I am tired, even at the measly age of 28, of candidates coming to me for my vote with little more than vacuous progressive platitudes.

If readers take the time to peruse Dustin’s website (, they’ll find a clean layout, an impressive biography, a strong list of endorsements, tabs for donations and volunteers, and terse descriptions of what he will do.

Among these, readers will find such noble goals as “Growing and promoting locally owned small businesses,” “Creating incentives at the county level to accelerate a transition to renewable energy,” and “Making our streets safe to walk and ride on.”

That’s it. We get one sentence and no details about what any of these things mean to him or how they might play out in the county legislature (I have not included flyers and mailers since those have limited space and are understandably lacking in depth).

What’s one general idea he has for growing local small businesses? What’s one general incentive he knows of that the county can do to transition faster to clean energy? What does it mean to make our streets safe to walk and ride on? Are we talking more sidewalks, bike lanes, no turn on red? Is this a subtle nod to being tough a crime?

It’s a blank slate any self-identifying liberal can layer whatever detail he or she wants to over it. It’s not fair to expect a 30-page policy paper, but it’d be nice to know what these vague notions mean to him.

Dustin’s service to his party and to what most of us consider to be good things has been invaluable. As State Senator Neil Breslin said in his endorsement, “I am confident his experience in organizing and managing campaigns will bring new energy and accountability to our county legislature.”

But campaigning is not governing and I don’t think Dustin’s campaign materials demonstrate he’s given much thought to the latter.

By contrast, Steve Wickham offers us the same progressive credentials plus actionable policies. Readers who visit his website ( will find they can spend a decent amount of time reading through his Issues tab.

Under Environmental Issues, Steve identifies waste management as a priority that needs to be tackled from different angles by composting, reducing, etc.

Right above that, he has an intriguing plan to partner with local schools to test water quality throughout the county. In a section titled “Protect and Strengthen our Democracy,” he comes out against reducing the size of the county legislature — a specific position which voters may agree or disagree with! 

The most extensive section is reserved for my favorite, economic development. In it, he takes specific and strong stands for paid sick days; a living wage; affordable housing programs modeled after those in Denver, Minneapolis, and Utah, and public high-speed broadband like they have in Chattanooga.

These are all great specific things we can come together and yell at Steve about if he doesn’t fight for them.

Both candidates have good politics. Both will vote the right way. Activists can be confident in their ability to feed either of them good legislation to push through the legislature. They’re both virtuous, admirable members of our community.

However, I believe throughout this campaign Steve Wickham has proven himself to be that rare candidate with a strong sense of how to wield the power of his office for us. I’m voting for Steve because we need more than just reliable progressive votes in the county legislature. We need people serious about governing. That’s Steve Wickham.

Henry Best


Editor’s note: While Henry Best is co-chair of the Albany Democratic Socialists of America, he stresses, “I am acting entirely on my own as a resident and voter in District 30. DSA is not involved in the county legislative races anywhere in any way, shape, or form.”

This letter was submitted on Sunday, too late to be printed before the June 25 primary.

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