Saratoga County

Saratoga County Independence Party chooses Southworth

Ballston Town Supervisor Patti Southworth has been elected the new chairwoman of the county Independ

Ballston Town Supervisor Patti Southworth has been elected the new chairwoman of the county Independence Party, replacing longtime chairman Lee Kolesnikoff.

Kolesnikoff, who has been chairman since the 1990s, said it was time for a changing of the guard.

“Patti Southworth is an excellent choice and she will do very well for the party. I have every confidence in her,” said Kolisnikoff, 77, of Clifton Park. He will remain a member of the state Independence Party Committee.

Southworth, 52, said she had high hopes for the party. “I want to continue growing the party as our previous chairman has done,” she said.

Southworth was elected Ballston town supervisor in 2007 as a Democrat, but quit that party and became an enrolled Independence Party member in 2008. Her husband, Patrick, was a local Democratic leader who had fought publicly with the party’s county leadership.

She is the only elected official in the county who is primarily affiliated with the Independence Party, though many Democrats and Republicans have been elected with the party’s cross-endorsement.

Southworth said the party stands for “good government, open government and responsiveness to the people we serve. Obviously we’re in favor of keeping the cost of government down, but that’s part and parcel of responsible government.”

The Independence Party has 8,398 Saratoga County members, according to the state Board of Elections. That gives the party the third-highest enrollment of any party, though it is far less than the Republicans and Democrats.

Southworth said she wants to see the party field more of its own candidates in local elections.

“Just because we’re a minority party doesn’t mean we can’t put up good candidates,” she said.

The Independence Party gained New York state ballot status in 1994, the year businessman Tom Golisano was the party’s candidate for governor.

“I think the party enrollment has grown because people are not happy with what has happened; the dysfunction in government has increased,” Kolisnikoff said. “The two parties are not getting the job done.”

At a meeting Thursday, the party committee elected Eddie Miller of Saratoga Springs as vice chairman, Patty Ruggles of Round Lake as secretary, and Gordon Boyd of Saratoga Springs as treasurer.

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