SARATOGA SPRINGS — Meg Kelly on Monday said she will not run for a third term as Saratoga Springs mayor in the 2021 election.
“I didn’t go into it as a career path,” she recalled of her decision to run for office in 2017.
Now she’s looking to start a new chapter. “Right now, I’m interviewing for different jobs,” she said.
Before she became deputy mayor and then mayor, Kelly was a golf professional and founded a children’s theater. The next chapter is likely to be as different from the previous chapters as the previous ones were from each other.
“I’m looking to reinvent myself for another 10 to 15 years,” she said. “It will be something totally different.”
Looking back on her tenure to date, she sees multiple highlights intermingled with some major challenges.
Several months after she took office, a fire inflicted significant damage on the historic City Hall. City government relocated and got back into business within a few days; after a lengthy and expensive series of repairs, City Hall reopened.
Earlier this year, COVID-19, the worst public health crisis the nation has seen in a century, struck, depriving the city of much of the sales tax revenue it uses to run operations and pay bills.
When the pandemic began to ebb in spring, a series of Black Lives Matter protests rocked Saratoga Springs. They were less-destructive and violent than those in other cities but still a jarring piece of some of the worst civil unrest the nation has seen in a half-century.
“It’s been quite a run,” Kelly said, referring to these chaotic and disruptive events but also to a series of accomplishments: Completion of the Geyser Road Trail and the new City Center garage, and acquisition of land for a new EMS facility.
“In my short time we’ve done a lot of great work,” Kelly said, adding that the city will be a better place when she leaves office than when she took office.
About that office … it’s not the part-time post it’s billed as, it’s a full-time job, she said. And it is constrained by being part of a commission system, one of the few cities in the state with that form of government.
Kelly said she sought to be mayor knowing the challenges the arrangement presented and she worked with them, but the city should change its charter to have a strong-mayor form of government.