A former Bay Ridge councilman known as a maverick long before that was considered politically cool is running for mayor — for the third time.
Sal Alabanese, who lost his bid for the city’s top seat to Rudolph Giuliani in 1997 and dropped out of the 2001 race when he failed to raise enough money, says New Yorkers are now ready for his style of leadership, which he claims is not beholden to anyone but the voters.
“I have 15 years of independent experience on the Council. I don’t owe anybody anything,” said Albanese.
Albanese was known for his trailblazing support of gay rights and strident backing of Mayor David Dinkins during his time in the Council between 1982 and 1997. But his inability to get along with party leadership — the Brooklyn Democrats, then headed by disgraced Assemblyman Clarence Norman, took its time before finally endorsing Albanese over Ruth Messenger late in the 1997 election — hurt his chances during big races.
And political insiders say his reputation as a renegade will leave Albanese standing all alone in the election season.
“He’s always been an outsider, never been popular with the leadership,” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who is working on the campaign of challenger Bill Thompson. “It’s not likely he’ll raise significant money, and it’s not likely he will do very well.”
But Albanese, who was a teacher for 15 years before getting into politics and, for the last 15 years has worked as a financial consultant, has shocked the system in the past.
In 1989, Albanese was kicked off the primary ballot by a judge who ruled his petitions where invalid. Albanese went on to win the primary as a write-in candidate.
It’s that kind of moxie that makes Albanese think his candidacy is more than quixotic.
“I plan on winning,” he said. “If I didn’t think I could win, I wouldn’t be in the race.”