KINGSTON — The city's mayor announced Wednesday that he will not seek a third term in November.

KINGSTON — The city's mayor announced Wednesday that he will not seek a third term in November.

"Despite all his attacking critics, Jim Sottile has been a smart, sensible and focused mayor," said Butch Dener, a Republican who's been Sottile's friend for decades.

The timing of the decision comes as more of a surprise than the announcement itself — political blogs have been speculating for months about who will replace the beleaguered mayor.

Sottile didn't return calls for comment.

The mayor has been praised for spurring residential and business development along the Hudson waterfront and avoiding massive tax hikes during his nine years in control of the city.

"The City of Kingston was the focal point of Jim's whole life," said Tom Hoffay, who has served on the city's council for three years and known Sottile for much longer.

Sottile spent pretty much of his tenure trying to steer the 1,682-unit Hudson Landing development project through bureaucratic hoops. Construction finally began in October.

And several council members praised Sottile for controlling costs and upgrading aging sewer infrastructure.

"This mayor has done a very good job of watching the bottom line," Hoffay said.

Kingston's 33rd mayor, however, has alienated much of his liberal base through a tough stance against the unions and a domineering personality.

"The mayor has a temper," Hoffay said. "He doesn't always have the most collegial style of management."

Sottile, for example, accused city garbage collectors in November 2009 of purposely slowing their pace of work to protest new job policies.

Then there's the infamous July 2007 fund-raising cruise, where MaryAnn Sennett, wife of Democratic district attorney candidate Jonathan Sennett, slapped Sottile and flung her drink in his face. Sennett said Sottile harassed his wife before the incident occurred.

"I'm not a big part of the mayor's fan club" said Jen Fuentes, a first-term council member.

Virtually every city politician with a heartbeat is considering a run for mayor.

Republican council member Ron Polacco said he's "strongly considering" seeking the top office, while council members Hayes Clement and Bill Reynolds would be formidable Democratic candidates.

Neither Clement nor Reynolds returned calls for comment.

"I may be one of the only people on the common council not throwing my name in the ring for mayor," Fuentes said.