Former Ballston Spa mayor James Capasso said this week that he wants to reclaim the job in the March 19 village election.
Capasso, 72, who was mayor from 1991 to 1995, said he will circulate independent petitions to challenge mayoral candidate Larry Woolbright, who has been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic caucuses.
One of the men will replace Mayor John P. Romano, who has held the post for the past 24 years. Romano won office in 1995, after Capasso’s re-election nomination petitions were ruled invalid because he filed them earlier than 9 a.m. (State law at the time specified they had to be filed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.)
Capasso, who is a Republican, said he was most upset by the village’s financial problems, which forced it to borrow more than $600,000 last year to cover operating expenses and made Ballston Spa the target of a harshly critical state audit.
“We’ve got a village $604,000 in the hole and a Republican team that is handpicked by John Romano,” Capasso said. “I don’t have a political agenda. I love the village of Ballston Spa, and that’s why I’m running.
“We’ve really got to get our budget under control.”
When pressed on whether budget cuts or tax increases are needed, he said: “We’ve got to analyze it.”
Woolbright, 66, a retired Siena College biology professor, headed the citizen’s committee that made recommendations on the village’s budget after last year’s critical state audit. The village Republican caucus — which was headed by Romano — nominated Woolbright for mayor in January, and the Democrats also endorsed him.
On Tuesday, Woolbright announced he won’t accept the Democratic nomination.
“While I am honored to be nominated by the Democratic caucus as well, it truly was a surprise,” he said in a statement. “In this incredibly important race in Ballston Spa, politics cannot take center stage to what is most important — getting our village finances back in order.”
Woolbright said he didn’t really understand Capasso’s decision to run, noting that Capasso has offered praise for him in the recent past and as far back as when Wool-bright chaired the Ballston Spa Board of Education’s finance committee in the 1980s.
“I’ve got pretty good credentials on fixing budgets and balancing books,” Wool-bright said, adding that he is ready for a contested election.
“I think we’ve got a really good team,” he said, referring to the Republican slate. “I think we can run on our credentials and trust the voters to make good decisions.”
Capasso was a self-employed plumber for many years and then worked in maintenance jobs for the Ballston Spa School District and later Albany Medical Center, from which he is now retired. His father, also named James, also served as village mayor.
Capasso, who obtained petitions from the state Board of Elections on Wednesday, has until Tuesday, Feb. 12, to turn in petitions with at least 100 valid signatures.
“I’ve done the job before. I know my capabilities,” Capasso said.
In addition to the mayor’s election, there will be a contest for two village trustee seats, with two seats being vacated by retirements. The Republicans have nominated Rory O’Connor and Peter Martin, while the Democrats are running Liz Kormos and Christine Fitzpatrick. Kormos and Fitzpatrick are also running on an independent line.