Lukee Forbes, one of Albany’s most notable and outspoken activists, took to social media today to announce his campaign to unseat Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, sharing his policy platform the “Promise Land Reform Plan.”
The plan focuses heavily on reforming the Albany Police Department and includes a 10 percent reduction to the department’s budget. That savings would go to work force development, STEM and community-run recreational programs. Officers would also be banned from carrying “lethal rounds” and “batons” unless authorized by the Mayor’s office.
Forbes also puts forward a detailed plan to address racism as a public health crisis that includes a commission to study proposals for reparations or restorations for African Americans.
Sheehan announced late last month that she was reneging on her pledge to seek only two terms. All of her likely established political challengers essentially backed her campaign, including Council President Corey Ellis who flirted with the idea of running in an interview with us earlier this year.
Forbes rose to prominence as an activist this summer in the wake or the murder of George Floyd. He’s also been a lightning rod for controversy as he lead a protest against a cake shop/towing business that he claims has associations with The Proud Boys a violent right-wing hate group.
Sheehan has been heavily criticized by activists for failing to take any concrete action to prevent police violence in the wake of the murder of George Floyd–instead painting “Black Lives Matter” on the street in a traditionally white neighborhood and promising to eventually take down the statue of a known slave owner.
She’s also failed to address the APD’s use of chemical weapons in residential neighborhoods during violent clashes between police and protesters last May. Sheehan initially indicated the use of tear gas may have violated APD protocol but has not addressed the matter in the nearly 8 months since.
Despite extreme dissatisfaction amongst activists Forbes’ bid is an extreme long shot. This year the primary falls in June which does not allow for much fundraising or coalition building. Meanwhile, Sheehan loaned her campaign hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2017 and could do so again if Forbes mounted a serious challenge.
We’ll have more on the campaign in the days to come.
Check out our feature on Forbes from this summer for more on the activist.