Gary R. McCarthy assumed the role of Acting Mayor of the City of Schenectady in April 2011, bringing with him more than three decades of experience in government, and a reputation as a hands-on, accessible, public servant who believes that government can be a force for positive change in the lives of its residents. He was elected to a full four-year term as Mayor in November 2011 and was re-elected in 2015.
Mayor McCarthy is the President of the New York State Conference of Mayors’ and Municipal Officials, chairs the Center for Economic Growth’s Capital Region Local Government Council (LGC), is a member of the iHeart Media Local Advisory Board, and was one of the first mayors in the nation to sign up for the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH).
A 1974 graduate of the former Linton High School, Mayor McCarthy went on to earn his Associates Degree from Schenectady County Community College and then continued his studies at the University at Albany. He began his professional career taking a job in 1981 as Chief Investigator in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office. In his 30 years on the job, Mayor McCarthy partnered with his colleagues and helped to convict hundreds of violent predators and career criminals.
Mayor McCarthy served on the Schenectady City Council from 1996 through 1999 and then rejoined the City Council in 2005. He was elected Council President in January 2010, a position he held until elected Mayor. Mayor McCarthy has also served on community boards including Metroplex, Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority, Schenectady Industrial Development Agency, and Schenectady Access Cable Council (now Open Stage Media). He was part of the team that helped rethink the way that Metroplex and the myriad of others focused on economic revitalization and did business.
Together, a team of city and county leaders created a unified economic development strategy under the umbrella of Metroplex, and the results have been impressive. Since 2004, Schenectady has undergone a renaissance. An expanded Proctors Theatre now hosts large scale Broadway shows in the heart of a reinvigorated downtown. We have welcomed a new hotel, cinema, restaurants, high technology companies, a YMCA, cafes and loft housing in our resurging downtown. GE has added over 1,000 jobs and major technology companies, such as Transfinder, have expanded in Schenectady. In the last several years, including the recent opening of the $300 million investment of Rivers Casino and the $150 million investment in Mohawk Harbor (which is due to open this year), our community has brought in over $1 billion in new investment.
Mayor McCarthy has been committed to bringing the same transformation seen downtown to the neighborhoods. He has brought a continuing and consistent focus on code enforcement and distressed properties. Building on successful neighborhood Code Enforcement sweeps and a new partnership with the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) which looked at Schenectady’s Code Enforcement practices, Schenectady is now the lead awardee of a $558,002 New York State Department of State Local Government Efficiency Grant to partner with Amsterdam, Troy and Gloversville in a pilot program to combat blight and better manage distressed properties.
Understanding the importance of quality of life, Mayor McCarthy established the award-winning Homeownership Made Easy in Schenectady (HOMES) Initiative and worked with Senator Schumer to secure a $3 million HUD 108 Loan for blight removal. The HOMES Program focuses on showcasing the housing opportunities throughout Schenectady through partnerships with nearly two dozen partners including banks, realtors, and contractors. Additionally, as part of the HOMES Program, many city-owned properties are being professionally marketed with a focus on attracting owner-occupied buyers. Schenectady is setting a national example as the first to use the 108 Program primarily for spot blight removal. CTG found buildings slated for demolitions can, on average, generate expenses for a municipality in excess of $65,000. This program removes hurdles for new investment while providing long term savings for the City and improved quality of life for the neighborhoods.
Mayor McCarthy has positioned Schenectady to lead in the application and development of smart technologies, and created a Smart City Commission in January of 2016 to advise him on these technologies. Commission members are leaders in diverse areas, including technology, education, arts, media, project management, and government. By engaging in almost a dozen smart city projects, he has built upon more than fifty partnerships with private companies, educational institutions, non-profits, and other governments and governmental agencies. This growing community of stakeholders encourages and fosters an environment rich in innovation and creativity and is a key part in reaching the full potential of our initiatives. Key themes to each of Schenectady’s Smart City projects have been creating broad partnerships to ensure community engagement, data driven governance to prove return on investment, efficient use of resources such as smart lighting and fleet routing initiatives and willingness to try new ideas and share information to create synergy and develop new best practices.
Mayor McCarthy has worked to stabilize the City’s finances following difficult times caused by the housing bubble and meltdown in the mortgage market. Standard & Poor upgraded Schenectady’s Bond Rating to A with a Stable Outlook last year and Moody’s has removed its negative outlook citing the City’s improved financial and liquidity position, favorable sales tax trend, and strong fiscal management.
Mayor McCarthy and his wife Caroline Boardman McCarthy, along with their two cats Misty and Captain reside in the City of Schenectady.