BALLSTON SPA — The village is holding its first non-partisan village elections next month, but the lack of involvement from political parties hasn’t kept candidates from affiliating with each other, or campaigns from taking shots at each other.
There are five candidates seeking two available seats on the Village Board of Trustees in the March 16 election. With incumbent Noah Shaw not seeking re-election, fellow incumbent Shawn Raymond said shortly after the Feb. 9 filing deadline that he was running on a slate with local community volunteer Ben Baskin on the “A Better BSpa” ballot line.
This week the other three candidates — Robert Bush Jr., Sean Mulvaney, and Mary Price-Bush (unrelated to Robert Bush) — said that although they are each running on their own ballot line, they are all supporting each other, even though only two of them can win.
“While Bush, Price-Bush and Mulvaney cannot all win election this year, they have embraced each other’s service and dedication to the community, passion to help their neighbors, and longevity in the village,” they said in a statement.
The Village Board’s current makeup includes four Democrats and one Republican: Mayor Larry Woolbright. Bush, Price-Bush and Mulvaney expressed support for Woolbright, and have Republican ties.
Frank Rossi Jr., an attorney and member of a locally prominent land development family that donates to Republicans, filed an objection with the Saratoga County Board of Elections last week, seeking to disqualify Raymond and Baskin’s nominating petitions over a signature issue. Rossi is representing Robert Bush, and is working with the two other candidates. The Board of Elections, however, ruled the petitions valid, so the election will proceed.
Baskin said he was disappointed there was an objection filed to the petitions. “How about we have an election that isn’t nasty,” he said. “We prefer to talk about the issues.”
“Shawn and I believe that we have the relevant experience, skills and values that many voters look for in a trustee,” he said.
Rossi wouldn’t discuss whether the objection may be pursued further, but issued a statement on behalf of Bush: “If Mr. Baskin and Mr. Raymond think that integrity, honesty, and the sanctity of our election process in our village aren’t ‘issues,’ then it speaks volumes about who they are. I asked the Board of Elections to ensure integrity and honesty existed here. If they’re looking for an apology, then I’m sorry they don’t understand the importance of the challenge.”
In announcing they were loosely allied, Bush, Mulvaney and Price-Bush emphasized their long ties to the village. Bush and Mulvaney are both volunteer firefighters, while Price-Bush is the wife of Police Chief Dave Bush.
Bob Bush is a lifelong resident. He is a firefighter with the Union Fire Company, and is a member of the Union Fire Company Marching Band, the MacBoston 18 Truck NYS Fallen Firefighter Memorial, and the American Radio Relay League. He has served as a sports coach. He works for the Warren-Saratoga-Washington-Hamilton-Essex BOCES as a network analyst.
Bush said his top priorities are to help develop specific, achievable plans to repair sidewalks and infrastructure, as well as provide better equipment for the Department of Public Works. “Because of the mayor’s efforts, our village is on stable financial footing, which enables this critical work to be done, a little bit each year, with the support of an action-motivated Board of Trustees,” Bush said. “Making the village receptive to new businesses and development is also key.”
Mulvaney is also a village native, a third-generation firefighter, and a member of the Sons of American Legion Post 234. He has worked for the town of Milton for 13 years, most recently in the Highway Department, and owns a lawn-care business. “My vision for Ballston Spa is to rebuild what we have. Keeping the values and tradition in our community of Ballston Spa is crucial, and making sure that the taxpayers of the village are provided with the services that they are entitled to should never be ignored.”
Mulvaney wants to upgrade Department of Public Works equipment so it can rebuild existing infrastructure, and said he would like to see more support for local youth programs. “Bringing programs back to Ballston Spa means making a better future for generations of families,” he said. “I also feel very strongly that local businesses need to thrive in the community of Ballston Spa and want to help in any way that I can.”
Price-Bush grew up in South Glens Falls but has lived in Ballston Spa for 30 years. She has worked at the Saratoga County Airport in Milton for the past 13 years, saying she has expanded her administrative skills to include accounting, purchasing, communications and compliance with federal regulations.
She also supports the planned repairs of the village’s infrastructure, to increase support for emergency services and first responders, and to continue to support Woolbright in improving village finances. “I feel very fortunate to have chosen Ballston Spa 30 years ago. I love the variety of our architecture, shops, and residents,” she said. “My children grew up in this safe, friendly community, and I hope to preserve our character and make new families know they also made the right choice.”
Having been elected four years ago as a Democrat and now running on the A Better BSpa line, Raymond said he has been a key member of the team that has helped the village improve its finances over the last two years. Baskin and Raymond said their campaign motto is Keep Moving Forward.
“We want to build on the progress we’ve generated over the last few years in terms of finances and infrastructure, and Ben is a great fit for the team,” Raymond said.
They said their platform includes: preserving village character; promoting smart growth; providing fiscal responsibility; and protecting village services. They noted that the Village Board began a comprehensive plan and zoning review. “It is vitally important to have on the board this year knowledgeable people who will work hard to maintain the character of Ballston Spa while promoting smart, neighborhood-friendly growth,” Baskin said.
Raymond is a civil engineer and 22-year village resident. In addition to serving as village trustee, he was part of the group that constructed Kelley Park. He was also on the task force that led the Malta Elementary School preservation efforts and the design of Gordon Creek Elementary School.
Ben Baskin, a village resident of 17 years, is a non-profit and public health professional with a background in senior services. For many years he helped lead the advocacy group Smart Growth Ballston, most prominently known for a successful effort to twice keep Walmart from building a store south of the village. He is currently a member of the town of Ballston Planning Board and Clean Energy Committee. He has served as president and treasurer of the Ballston Area Community Center, where he helped raise $100,000 in grants to build BACC’s first playground.
The election will be March 16, with voting at the Eagle Matt Lee and Union fire stations. Voting will be from noon to 9 p.m.