CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the ballot lines in the race for finance commissioner. The incumbent in the race, Michele Madigan, is running on the Independence, Working Families and SAM ballot lines.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Four of the five City Council seats in Saratoga Springs are being contested this year, with some races hotly contested and showing the fractures within the city’s political parties.
In the city’s unusual form of government in which elected commissioners wield near-unliteral power over area they control, the offices of mayor and commissioners of public works, public safety and finance are all being contested. Only Accounts Commissioner John Franck, whose office performs the functions of a city clerk, has no opposition.
For mayor, one-term incumbent Democrat Meg Kelly is seeking another two-year term, and is being opposed by Republican Timothy Holmes, who has the party ballot line even though the city Republican Committee didn’t support him.
Kelly has said her accomplishments include breaking a 30-year deadlock on a downtown City Center parking garage, now under construction, and progress on such long-planned projects as the Geyser Road recreation trail and an East Side fire station.
Holmes has noted his long record of community volunteerism and interest in history, and expressed concerns about the amount of change being brought about by new development or proposed development in the city.
For public works commissioner, who oversees the city’s streets, parks, water and sewer systems, voters have a choice between Anthony “Skip” Scirocco — the only Republican on the five-member council — and Democrat Dillon Moran.
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Scirocco, who has been in office for the last 12 years, said he’s running on a record that includes more than $10 million in investment in recent years in the city’s water system, including development of a new well source in the Bog Meadows area. His department is also overseeing the current reconstruction of City Hall after an August 2018 lightning strike and flood.
Moran, a chemical engineer by training, has also emphasized water issues and his understanding of them as an engineer, and said the city needs to be making more investments in infrastructure to keep up with the city’s growth.
In the finance commissioner race, incumbent Michele Madigan is hoping to keep the job by running on the Independence, Working Families and SAM ballot lines, after narrowly losing the Democratic nomination to Patricia Morrison in a June primary. The primary split Democrats, with a dozen members of the city Democratic committee resigning so that they could continue working for Madigan’s re-election.
Madigan said she is running on her record, which includes cutting or holding property taxes in the city steady for the eight years she has been in office. She also cited her support for sustainability measures like installing solar panels on the city landfill and tree planting.
Morrison has 25 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies, currently serves on the city Board of Education, and said she believes there has been a lack of accountability and to many conflicts of interest in how the city has been managed.
The commissioner of public safety oversees the police and fire departments and building code enforcement. Current commissioner Peter Martin did not run for re-election, and voters will be closing between Republican Robin Dalton and Democrat Kendall Hicks. Hicks, a career member of the National Guard, has faced criticism over a 2013 domestic violence arrest (charges were dismissed) and other personal matters, and he is running without support from the city Democratic Committee.
Dalton, who if elected would be the first woman to head the department, said at a recent candidate forum that she has a long record of community volunteerism and has “the moral authority and character” to lead the city’s public safety departments. She said her activism has shown her that Saratoga Springs is small enough for organized citizens to be able to make a difference.
At the same League of Women Voter forum, Hicks said changes in the city have largely benefitted the well-to-do without lifting the working class, and that more accountability and transparency needs to be brought to the police and other city departments. He said his military career also taught him about management of large organizations.
All the candidates running this year said they support efforts to stabilize and find a permanent home for the Code Blue homeless shelter program.
City voters will also be selecting two people to represent them on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
The incumbents, Republican Matthew Veitch and Democrat Tara Gaston, are running for new two-year terms, and Republican Stephen Mittler is also running.