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Changes are coming on Saratoga County board

Saturday, May 18, 2013
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It’s still early in the political year, but it looks like at least five seats — and maybe more — will be turning over on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.

Greenfield Town Supervisor Dick Rowland last week confirmed he won’t be running again, ending a half-dozen years in politics for the former manager of the Saratoga County Fair.

Other Republicans retiring this year are Mary Ann Johnson of Day, who’s been on the board 18 years, and George Hargrave of Galway, who has served for the last 12 years.

In future history books, Rowland will probably be better remembered for his 20-year run as the high-profile and affable manager of the county fair in Ballston Spa, where he enthusiastically touted everything from fried Oreos to live alligators.

Rowland first ran for Greenfield supervisor in 2007, when he beat incumbent Al Janik in a primary. For a couple of years, he pulled off the precarious trick of running both a town and a county fair, but he retired from the fair post in 2009. He went on to win re-election as supervisor two more times, but decided he’s had enough of politics.

“I always said this wouldn’t be my second career,” the 63-year-old said the other day. “It’s time to start doing some things for Dick and Joan,” he added, referring to his wife.

The Greenfield Republican Committee has selected Paul Lunde, the town’s Republican Committee chairman and a member of the town Zoning Board of Appeals, to be the party’s supervisor nominee this fall. Lunde is retired from a 30-year career in management at Stewart’s Shops.

“The town is very well run. There’s a lot of intelligent, caring people and I just want to keep that going,” Lunde said.

Lunde, 57, is also a business consultant, and president of the board of the Stewart’s Federal Credit Union. He’s married, with two grown children, two grown step-children, and six grandchildren.

In Galway, meanwhile, the town GOP has turned to someone very familiar with the county’s physical and political geography: county Emergency Services Director Paul Lent.

Lent, who has worked for the county for much of the last 40 years, will be retiring from his current post at some point this year. He was emergency services director from 1977 to 1990, left to work as an emergency radio systems consultant, and then returned to county employment in 2006.

He’ll be 61 this summer, and said he’s been contemplating retirement from a 24/7 job that involves worrying about river flooding every time it rains hard, especially when snowpack is melting.

“I just thought it would be a way to continue my public service. I knew my time in emergency services was growing short.” Lent said.

Lent has a farm in Galway, and served on the town Planning Board for the last three years, the last two of them as chairman. He was appointed to a Town Board seat this past January, where he replaced a board member who resigned for health reasons.

Two other supervisors are departing due to their ambitions rather than retirement: Democrat Joanne Yepsen and Independent Patti Southworth.

Yepsen is running for mayor of Saratoga Springs. Since her Republican opponent is likely to be current Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton, it’s a safe bet that the Spa City will have its third woman mayor.

The Republicans, hoping to pick Yepsen’s seat up at the county level, have nominated former city finance commissioner Ken Ivins to run for supervisor.

Ballston Supervisor Southworth plans to run for county clerk this year, so she also won’t seek re-election. She’s a former Democrat, now a member of the Independence Party, who is surrounded on the Ballston Town Board by four Republicans.

The GOP, which has a significant enrollment advantage in Ballston, has nominated Patrick Ziegler for supervisor. Ziegler works for Simmons Capital Group in Halfmoon as a college financing specialist and insurance agent.

But even beyond those who are retiring or seeking other offices, there’s a chance of change.

Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville, who is in line to chair the county board in 2014 if re-elected, faces a Republican primary challenge from Councilman Peter Klotz.

In Halfmoon, meanwhile, Supervisor Mindy Wormuth lost the backing of her town’s Republican Committee after a series of political embarrassments, and the committee has nominated Kevin Tollisen for supervisor. Wormuth could still run in a primary, but at this point would have the town and county Republican powers working against her.

In summary, somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of the 23-member board could be turning over in January.

Of those 23 board members, 19 are Republicans.

“There will be a big turnover on the board,” acknowledged county Republican Chairman John Herrick.

Stephen Williams is a Gazette reporter. The opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. He can be reached at 885-6705 or swilliams@dailygazette.net.

 
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