Thomas Michael Whalen III
Thomas Michael Whalen III, also known as Thomas M. Whalen III, and more simply, Tom Whalen, (1934–2002) was an attorney and politician, a three-term mayor of Albany, New York, serving from 1983 to 1993. A native of Albany, he graduated from Manhattan College and Albany Law School.
Early life and education
Thomas Michael Whalen III was born to an ethnic Irish Catholic family in Albany in 1936. He attended Vincention Institute for elementary, middle and high school. He graduated from Manhattan College in 1955 and Albany Law School.
After law school, Whalen joined the law firm of Cooper, Erving & Savage and went into private practice in Albany.
He became interested in politics, joining the Democratic Party. Whalen was elected as a city court judge and served from 1969 to 1975. In 1981, as part of Erastus Corning's "Team for the Future", he was picked as his successor, and nominated and elected as President of the Albany Common Council. Whalen's election to the Common Council's Presidency put him in position to ascend to the Mayor's Office in City Hall.
Mayor Corning died in 1983 in Boston. In accordance with Albany's charter, Whalen, as Common Council President, succeeded to the office of Mayor. At that time, New York State Comptroller Ned Regan was preparing to impose a Financial Control Board over the City of Albany, which was struggling with debt due to a downturn in its economy and loss of jobs. Whalen quickly set about establishing proper financial controls so that Albany could maintain control over its own finances; in addition, he worked to strengthen the economy and attract new residents and businesses. By all accounts he was successful.
Whalen served as a delegate to the 1984 Democratic National Convention. His administration encouraged the city's year-long Tricentennial celebration together with its business community. Among the project was restoration of the historic carillon of Albany City Hall.
Whalen was elected on his own in 1985 and re-elected in 1989. He is credited with a variety of reforms in city government, including reducing patronage and the reach of the political machine that Corning had ruled for more than four decades.
Marriage and family
In 1960 he married Denis Marie O'Connor. They had five children together: Laura Whalen, who lives in Albany as an adult; and four sons, Thomas, of Clarksville, NY; Mark, of New Salem, NY; Matthew of Garden City, NY and Jonathan Whalen of Slingerlands, NY.
Whalen is credited with leading a broad revitalization of both the City of Albany and the Capital District through the 1980s and into the early 1990s. His tenure is noted for its focus on prudent financial and civil service reform, opening up city hall, and using the arts and the city park system as a catalyst for growth.
The City was designated an "All-American City" under his leadership, attained the highest possible bond rating from Moody's and hosted many successful downtown cultural events.
Whalen is remembered for his encouragement of renovation of historic architecture in the city and adaptive re-use, as well as encouraging new construction. He helped attract federal monies for such reinvestment, adding to the character of the city.
On the other hand, he opposed preservation of the Albany Pine Bush, an area of pine barrens on the outskirts of Albany, which he wanted developed for an office building. A small group of activists has worked to preserve this area, gaining cooperation of residents and officials of three towns for a Pine Bush Preserve Commission, founded in 1988, and sometimes fighting for protection through lawsuits.
The Irish Internship program at the New York State Assembly is named in his honor. In 2000, Whalen joined the staff at University College Cork. He decided to found an internship program for that college's students to go to the College of Saint Rose in Albany for experiential education in the American city, especially working with the state legislature. He died in an automobile accident in 2002, just as the first "Irish Interns" were set to arrive in Albany.
Whalen was eulogized at Albany Law, his alma mater. An award is granted by the Neighborhood Resource Center in his honor. The "Thomas M. Whalen III Foundation for Cultural Arts" was founded in his honor by friends and family. A memorial statue of him can be found in downtown Albany's Tricentennial Park.
- Eric Pace, "Thomas M. Whalen III, 68, Three-Term Mayor of Albany," New York Times, March 8, 2002, found at New York Times Obituary. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- The Political Graveyard. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- NY Courts government website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- History of the Albany Carillon. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- "Mayor Whalen showed a special interest in all of the City of Albany's Parks," from Washington Park Conservancy website, citing US Mayors website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Albany-Tula Alliance website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Association of Schools of Public Health website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- University of Albany website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Brian Nearing, "Nature preservers: For 30 years, Save the Pine Bush has fought for ancient barrens," Albany Times-Union, 30 March 2008, found at Save the Pine Bush website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- New York State Assembly website and Internship brochure (Pdf). Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Press Release: "Latest News", University College Cork website, Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Matthew H. Mataraso, "Remembering the Honorable Thomas M. Whalen III, " Albany Law Review, Fall, 2002, found at Find articles website. See also Highbeam.com website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Pine Hills Neighborhood Association website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- Community Foundation for the Capital Region website. Accessed February 18, 2009.
- "Statue of former mayor unveiled. (2005-05-05), Capital News 9, accessed 2006-04-19. (Link may be dead as of February 18, 2009.)
Erastus Corning II
|Mayor of Albany, New York
1983 – 1993