By Brian Karimi
This article is part of an ongoing series in World Views on Roger Hull’s mayoral campaign.
Roger Hull, president of Union for fifteen years before current president Stephen Ainlay, is running for mayor of Schenectady. Hull’s tenure saw the College’s acquisition of property on Lenox Road, Seward Place, and Roger Hull, as well as the nearby playing fields and College Park Hall.
It saw the rise of the Minerva system, the controversial relocation of fraternities, and the elimination of the Civil Engineering department.
A new chapter in Hull’s life began when he contested his taxes here in Schenectady, complaining they were too high.
In line to make his case, Hull was struck by the amount of people in line with similar complaints: living in Schenectady was becoming increasingly expensive.
Spurred by this incident, Hull formed what is called the “Alliance Party” with a few others, including current faculty member Bradley Lewis of the Economics department and Professor of Political Science Emeritus Byron Nichols.
Hull, among others, laments what he sees as one-party rule in the city, what he calls “the Democratic machine” that has held power for 36 years.
Even being a Democrat in the city, Hull explains, does not allow a politician the ability to work with the Machine. Those who do not step in line with the city’s leadership are excluded at the expense of the talent and fresh ideas they could potentially bring to the table.
Professor Lewis, a registered Republican, echoed this sentiment, explaining that the Republicans in the city do not constitute a credible party because they offer the Democrats no political competition.
Professor Zoe Oxley of the Political Science department lives locally and has an interest in public opinion.
She too expressed concerns that the city has come very close to one party rule and believes the Alliance Party’s presence will work towards elevating the nature of political debate. A lack of substantive policy debate in the past has, in her opinion, left voters with little to base their decisions on.
The Alliance Party is Hull’s answer to this problem. But what has some confused is why Hull would work with the Democratic party, which he believes has failed to address important problems facing the city and engage with other politicians. Hull is on record for having voted for Republicans in the past and the GOP recently endorsed his mayoral bid, choosing not to advance a candidate for mayor other than Hull. New York is one of few states where candidates can be endorsed by multiple parties.
“I’m not a Republican,” Hull explained. “A name should say what you are, and we are the Alliance Party.”
The city has about 13 thousand registered Democrats, six thousand Independents, and six thousand Republicans, so Hull must appeal to Democrats if he wants the mayor’s office.
“He can easily tap into voter dissatisfaction,” Oxley explained, noting that many in town are tired of the politics in town.
The economic state of the city, and a desire to fix it, is something Hull believes will resonate will all voters come November.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to live here,” he noted. “Neighborhoods are suffering because of lack of investment.”
The way in which private investment could be employed to improve the city’s neighborhoods has yet to be unveiled by Hull, but it is likely to be at least fairly contentious.
Oxley raised questions about start-up obstacles and the willingness for investors to give money where no one else has, noting that Hull may face a choice between higher taxes and better neighborhoods.
Lewis explained that taxes are high in Schenectady when compared to the value of property. Oxley believes current taxes warrant more governmental services.
Once the neighborhood program is introduced in its entirety there will likely be more questions to pose to Hull about his candidacy.