EDITORIAL: In Saratoga Springs, learn to work within the current system

Saratoga Springs City Hall
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Saratoga Springs City Hall

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

Some people like living in the tropics; some like living in cold New England.

Some people like being employees; others can’t imagine working for someone else. Some people liked being in high school; others couldn’t wait to get out.

You can try to change people’s preferences. But in the end, people will decide what works best for them, and others should ultimately respect that.

And as residents of Saratoga Springs have proven time and time again, the majority of them like their unusual commission form of government.

It’s time for those who disagree with them to respect that and stop trying to change that.

For the fourth election in nearly 14 years, city residents have resisted efforts by a group of well-meaning citizens to abandon the existing form of government and switch to a more traditional arrangement – most recently featuring one that would include an executive mayor, council members representing geographic areas, and a professional manager to run the day-to-day operations of the city.

For the past 105 years, the city has been governed by a system based on tasks. One council member oversees public safety. Another manages city finances. Another supervises public works, etc.

It’s an unusual arrangement for sure.

But when looking at Saratoga Springs, it’s difficult to argue with success.

Under this form of government, the city has preserved its history, it’s beautiful, it’s economically vibrant, it offers plenty to do, and it’s financially stable.

It’s not perfect by a long shot. And not every decision made over time has been the right one. But that’s the nature of government in general, not just this one.

It’s time for opponents of the commission form of government to honor the wishes of the majority of voters and stop putting charter change on the ballot.

Instead, these citizens need to work harder to improve the system from within.

One argument put forth for opposing the commission government is that it’s unresponsive. Well, then fight to make it more responsive.

Start with electing the right people and voting out those who operate in secret and run their departments like fiefdoms.

Go to meetings and make sure the board is operating in the open. Stay on top of your representatives and go public with your concerns, just like citizens living any other forms of government must do.

It’s true one individual controls one function of government in this system. But the majority of the council still has to vote on policies, laws, initiatives and budgets as a group.

Saratoga Springs citizens have now demonstrated multiple times that they prefer the government system that they have.

It’s up to those same citizens to come together and ensure the system works best for all.

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