The last meeting of 2020 was quite an occasion for the Albany City Council on Wednesday. To get the whole picture, you should wait till the video is up on cityofalbany.net and then watch at least the first part.
It was the last meeting for Mayor Sharon Konopa after 24 years on the council, first as a councilor and the last 12 as mayor. She’ll be succeeded by Councilor Alex Johnson II, who narrowly defeated her last month.
It was also the last for three councilors who did not seek re-election: Bill Coburn after 12 years, Rich Kellum after eight, and Mike Sykes after four. As you might imagine, there were lots of thanks and lots of speeches, all of them mercifully short, as well as virtual presentations of “keys to the city” and, in the mayor’s case, a flag.
Sharon Konopa is well known for her love of Albany and her tireless work on behalf of her hometown. She urged the next council to do everything possible to preserve core city services, especially those related to public safety.
She wants to be remembered as the “no-gavel mayor.” Not once during her 12 years as the council’s presiding officer has she banged her gavel to make a point or to shut somebody up. No, she said, all you need is a smile.
Those of us who have followed the council over many years will remember all the things she did for the town, including her dedication to the preservation of Albany’s historic districts and the revival of downtown.
But she’s right. When the issues have faded in our memory, we’ll remember Sharon Konopa’s kindness and above all, her smile. (hh)