Ballston Spa

Ballston Spa election forum canceled

Republican candidates didn't commit
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PHOTOGRAPHER:

What would have been the village’s first League of Women Voters candidates forum has been canceled after the Republicans in the race failed to RSVP. 

“We’re disappointed,” said Noah Shaw, a 40-year-old Democrat seeking one of two seats on the Board of Trustees. “We don’t know what the back and forth was between the league and the Republican side, so I can’t really comment on that. I know that I certainly accepted the invitations very quickly, and I believe the other Democrats did too.”

In place of the forum, which had been set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Malta Avenue School, the Democrats will host a meet-and-greet at the same time at The Factory Eatery & Spirits at 20 Prospect St. Shawn Raymond, a 19-year village resident, civil engineer and Democrat, is also running for Village Board, and Erika Tebbens, a Democrat and small business owner, is running for village justice against Republican incumbent Michael Morrisey.

“If folks want to come ask us questions, friendly or unfriendly, we’re happy to answer them,” said Shaw, who works as general counsel for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and wants to clean up the contaminated Rickett’s Dry Cleaning site on Route 50.

He and Raymond also pledge to make Village Hall more transparent and better engage the community with advisory councils, a new website, social media outreach and digitally recorded meetings. 

Bruce Couture, a Republican who resigned from the Milton Town Board in February to run for Village Board in Ballston Spa, said he didn’t agree to attend the forum because he had concerns about how it would be handled, suggesting the league would favor the Democrats.

“I had a couple questions and told her I’d get back to her,” he said.

Republican incumbent Ronald Henry is also seeking re-election to the Village Board. The other Republican incumbent, Courtney Mancini, is not seeking re-election. 

“We had concerns about being treated fairly when it was announced by our opponents that it was happening before the league announced it,” Couture said. “I’m going to bring the message to the people in the comfort of their own homes.”

He also said he had trouble believing the group was bi-partisan when two of its members include Tebbens and Ellie Dillon, the town of Milton Democratic Committee chairwoman.

Ann Kril, voter services chairwoman for the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County, said the Democratic committee did send out a press release announcing the forum on March 6 before her group had the chance to, “which was very, very wrong, and I got very upset with them.”

“I think that was something that really bothered the Republicans, but they should’ve already answered me by then,” she said. 

She confirmed Tebbens and Dillons’ membership in the league but said they are “not members that work closely with us at all.” 

“The league is open to everyone,” she said. “If we have members that are in one party or another, that’s a good thing.”

Kril said she first reached out to all the candidates on Feb. 25, the day after learning that the election was contested, proposing a forum for Monday, March 13, at the Elks Lodge. She said Morrisey and Henry quickly called her back to let her know the date conflicted with village court and a Village Board meeting.

 “I took those two phone calls to mean that they wanted a change of date,” she said.

That’s when she chose the “only possibility left on the calendar,” Thursday, secured the school as a venue and sent the candidates an invitation by email and mail.

“It was a lot of work to get a new venue, but I did it, and then I heard nothing more from them,” she said, referring to the Republicans. 

Kril said this is the first time in the 10 years she’s been voter services chairwoman that there have been any contested village elections in Saratoga County, “and this year we had three.”

“In the month of March, I don’t usually have that much to do,” she said. “I worked really hard starting with February to make three events happen, and I was under enormous pressure to get that done.”

A  forum for the contested mayor and trustee races in South Glens Falls took place last week, but an event scheduled for Tuesday in Schuylerville, where the mayor and trustee races are also contested, was canceled due to the snowstorm.

“That community really wanted to be out there and talking together,” she said.

Election Day is March 21.

Ballston Spa Village Election 

DATE: Tuesday, March 21

POLLS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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