Amber Whitson is a community organizer.
1 – What do you think should be your City’s response to the lack of housing stock?
When there is an opportunity to force a developer to include a percentage of the units in a development to be affordable for low- or extremely low-income individuals or families, I feel that it is the responsibility of the City to not allow said developer to buy their way out of doing so.
Do you support having a moratorium of any kind on rent increases, stronger rent control measures, restrictions on sales to foreign nationals?
Indeed, I do believe that there should be a moratorium on rent increases. At least until a Rent Review Board (an idea which is being tossed around amongst Albany’s commissions) can be established. Albany should not allow its citizens to be priced out of their own town without any protection or recourse.
2 – What will you do to help the homeless population in your City?
The City of Albany has virtually no assistance available for persons experiencing homelessness to avail themselves of. The only program that they do have is severely underfunded. If elected, I will find out which HUD grants Albany is eligible to apply for and will work to get them. I will also work toward the creation of a drop-in center for people to get and access referrals from.
3 – What policies do you support implementing on the use of surveillance technology (surveillance cameras on streets, license plate readers, drones, etc.) by local law enforcement in your City?
I do not support the use of drones on everyday citizens. This country is already turning into a police state. I would support surveillance cameras on City streets, only if there was also easy access, for members of the public, to any police body-cam footage which was recorded during that person’s interaction with police (Albany Police Officers already wear body-cams).
4 – What will you do to address problems related to police brutality and misconduct in your City?
Albany has few, if any, reported cases of police brutality against humans on their record. They do, however, have at least two separate cases of puppycide over the years. I would like to see the officers of the Albany Police Department undergo the necessary training to prevent future puppycides.
5 – What do you believe the City Council should do to address issues of gangs and drug addiction in your community?
I have never heard any reports of any gang activity in Albany.
I believe that addiction should be treated as what it is: a societal problem. A symptom of a much larger disease. If we treat the cause, it’s much easier to relieve the symptom. I don’t know if that is something that one City Council could tackle. But, I’m willing to try.
6 – What do you think the City Council should do to help youth thrive?
Albany is renowned for its excellent school system. However, I think that the best thing that any of us can do to help youth thrive is to practice acceptance and understanding. If we lead by example, then todays and tomorrow’s youth will do the same.
7 – How do you propose your City should respond to formerly incarcerated citizens re-entering the community?
Formerly incarcerated citizens are, many times, just like the rest of us. Almost everybody deserves a second chance. Especially when their first chance was lost to the criminal injustice system that our country operates under today.
What will you do to support community-based support services for formerly incarcerated citizens?
I will vote to approve any program which is brought before the Council, so long as I also truly believe that the program will genuinely help formerly incarcerated individuals.
8 – How do you propose your City address the causes and effects of climate change?
Living in a concrete jungle, wherein the runoff from rainstorms (after falling on concrete and then running over asphalt) can be toxic by the time it hits the Bay, is not a desirable condition for humans or for wildlife. If we are to have cleaner air and healthier surroundings for us and for the rest of nature, Albany must work to preserve the few open spaces that it has left, rather than allow development to steal this precious resource.
Do you have specific policy recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in your city?
No. I don’t have any new policy recommendations, in particular. However, as I recognize the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, I am always open to learning what more our city can do.
If your city is on the bay, how do you propose it prepare for sea level rises?
I don’t know that any of us can really, fully prepare for rising sea levels. If we can hold off on development right next to the Bay shore, then at least we won’t be building even more for us to lose.
9 – What percentage of the funds you’ve raised so far come from individual contributors giving $200 or less to your campaign?
0%. As my campaign began on August 12th, I have yet to acquire any donations. I haven’t really tried to do any fundraising yet.
10 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
I am a 10 year resident of Albany. I have been civically active in Albany since 2011, attending Waterfront Committee and City Council meetings. I was appointed by the City to represent Albany’s Homeless Community on the Homeless Task Force. I was a community organizer for over 60 homeless Albany residents from 2012 to 2014 and continue to advocate for some of those same people today.
I feel that it is important that there be a voice for the underrepresented in Albany: people living with disabilities, those who live in poverty and those who are experiencing or who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
There also needs to be better dialogue with (and more outreach to) the community. A city is more than just a geographic location. It is the people and places which surround us. The government of which should not seem so separate from its citizens.
If elected, I will listen to the concerns of the citizens of the City of Albany and make every effort to address those concerns and to insure that no one feels as though their voice doesn’t matter.
In a small town, every person’s voice matters.
We the willing, led by the unknowing,
are doing the impossible, for the ungrateful.
We have done so much, with so little, for so long…
We are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.
– Konstantin Josef Jireček