Saratoga County

Saratoga County Democrats: GOP chairman should give up county job

Carl Zeilman is both county GOP leader and county commissioner of emergency services
Carl Zeilman speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in March
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Carl Zeilman speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in March

Categories: News, Saratoga County

SARATOGA COUNTY — The Saratoga County Democratic Committee on Wednesday called for county Republican Chairman Carl Zeilman to give up either that position or his job with Saratoga County.

The Democrats criticized Zeilman, who is also the county’s commissioner of emergency services, for using his social media accounts to share what they called a “far-right flyer” on June 8 that he said was “clearly fake.” They said the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department found no evidence of the flyer actually being distributed on vehicles in the Clifton Park area, as Zeilman’s post implied it had been.

“It is clear from Zeilman’s actions, one cannot serve as both a political party official and a county commissioner of emergency services,” said county Democratic Chairman Todd Kerner.

On Wednesday, the post about the flier, which alluded to threats to conservatives from protesters, appeared to have been removed from Zeilman’s and Republican Party social media. Zeilman now says he meant only to imply that the information was circulating locally on the internet, not that printed posters were being distributed locally.

“This flier made it appear in dangerous language that Democrats wanted to eliminate Republicans,” Kerner said in a press release on behalf of the committee.

The Republican post appeared just before a Black Lives Matters march in Clifton Park on June 8, one of a series of marches and demonstrations around the country in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Hundreds of people attended the march, which covered three miles, from Clifton Commons to the state police barracks on Route 146.

“The use of this flier by Zeilman to cause turmoil is inconsistent with the rule of commissioner of emergency services,” the Democrats said.

“Zeilman’s tweeting and posting this flyer prior to this demonstration was fearmongering and an inflammatory political act,” Kerner said. “The residents of Saratoga County are of all colors, faiths and political ideologies and deserve their county commissioner of emergency services to be above such political partisan action.

As commissioner of emergency services, Zeilman earns about $80,000 annually. Zeilman, who lives in the town of Ballston, has been the county’s emergency services manager since 2014, and became GOP committee chairman, which is an unpaid position, in 2018.

Zeilman said he doesn’t plan to give up either position, and criticized Democrats for bringing it up.

“This is just typical par for the course, an attempt to create distraction from dangerous policies including defunding law enforcement, supporting bail reform and placing COVID-19 patients back in nursing homes, all of which Kerner supports,” he responded.

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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