ALBANY -- Longtime Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings won't seek a sixth term in November, ending months of speculation that he was preparing to end his nearly 20-year run in office.
During an emotional news conference at City Hall Wednesday, the 64-year-old Jennings said he was proud of his record. He vowed, "I'm not going anywhere," and promised to continue to work with the next administration.
"This is about gratitude and love for the citizens of Albany," he said before pausing to collect himself. "We have built a better city. I tried to do what was best for the whole city, every neighborhood.
"There's still work to do," he said.
Jennings, a Democrat, was first elected in 1993 and took office on Jan. 1, 1994, after a 13-year stint as a city councilman. The former teacher and vice principal for the city's public school system won re-election four more times, making him Albany's second-longest serving mayor.
Only Erastus Corning, Albany's mayor for 41 years, served more years in the job. The heavily Democratic city of nearly 98,000 is the seat of state government.
Currently, Shawn Hogan in Hornell, elected in 1985, is the longest serving city mayor in New York. Lake George Village Mayor Robert Blais has been in office 42 years.
Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors, said it's hard to imagine somebody besides Jennings in Albany's City Hall.
"It's sort of a shock to the system to think he won't be mayor anymore," Baynes said. "He was born to be a mayor."
The Albany Times Union reported that Jennings late Tuesday told party officials about his decision before the county's Democratic Party brass met and then sent a first-person letter addressed to city residents, ending months of rampant speculation by observers that he may not run.
The newspaper reported, the mayor consulted friends and family before deciding not to seek a sixth term.
"The city will be fine," he said, adding that he has no plans other than finishing his term.
He reportedly has not discussed a job in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration. "I'm not sure that is the right direction for me right now," Jennings said.