SARATOGA SPRINGS – Offering praise for outgoing city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, Adam Israel has announced an independent candidacy for city finance commissioner, the city’s chief financial officer.
Israel is running along with mayoral candidate Robin Dalton on the Saratoga Strong ballot line. The pair say the city needs a “truly independent option” as opposed to the Republicans and Democrats, who have been divided in the last couple of years by factional conflict.
Madigan, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election this year after a decade in office. The Democrats have nominated Skidmore College business professor Minita Sanghvi for the post, while the Republican candidate is JoAnne Kiernan, a certified public accountant to local businesses who recently completed a term on the Saratoga Springs Board of Education.
The son of historic building rehabilitator and hotel owner Robert Israel, the city native is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a business and finance degree. He has worked for an international accounting firm, and has owned and operated a small hotel in the Virgin Islands. He worked to secure government aid and rebuild after the island was struck by two different hurricanes in 2017 – an experience he said will be helpful as the city recovers from its COVID-related financial crisis.
“We must not take for granted the sound fiscal management that allowed us to get through the difficult times and we cannot risk inexperience as we continue to recover financially from the pandemic,” he said in an announcement speech Wednesday night at the Inn at Saratoga.
There were fears last year that the city could lose as much as $14 million in revenue due to a devastating decline in the tourism economy and having no fans allowed to attend races at Saratoga Race Course. The original fears of a multi-year decline haven’t been borne out. The city borrowed $11.3 million last year to cover short-term revenue losses, but has already aid off $6.3 million, Madigan said at a City Council meeting last week.
“Cash flow and revenues are both improving,” she said.
The state’s economy in general is recovering from the pandemic faster than expected, as a report from state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released on Thursday showed.
“Our city, which was once in financial peril, is now returning to the financially healthy city we were pre-pandemic,” Israel said. “We only weathered this financial downturn through steady and responsible leadership. I will continue that leadership with my expertise and experience.”
His proposed platform includes practicing fiscal discipline, working to build consensus in City Council decision-making, investing in the Public Works and Public Safety departments, maintaining the greenbelt around the city, and continuing the “smart city” initiative started by Madigan.
Israel is married with two children.
The finance commissioner’s post, like other City Council positions, is part time with a $14,000 annual salary. Four of the five seats are open in November due to commissioners not seeking re-election or running for other offices this fall.