Saratoga Springs

ENDORSEMENT: West best to take Saratoga Springs into the future

Saratoga Springs Republican mayoral candidate Heidi Owen West
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Saratoga Springs Republican mayoral candidate Heidi Owen West

As they did to many cities, COVID and the racial-justice movement of the past 18 months delivered some body blows to Saratoga Springs, with BLM protests and clashes with police, trouble in the popular Caroline Street corridor and economic struggles due to the shutdown.

City residents are clamoring for an experienced, steady hand who understands with workings of City Hall, the needs of businesses, the challenges of dealing with the city’s homeless problem, and an understanding of what makes the city tick.

Among the three individuals running for mayor on Nov. 2, Heidi Owen West has the best handle of all on the obligations and limitations of the mayor’s office in the city’s unusual commission form of government.

West, for instance, is cognizant that businesses often have trouble navigating the sometimes complex rules and regulations. For that, she plans to appoint a business liaison to help businesses negotiate the labyrinth so they can operate and thrive.

She can use her business and management experience effectively to promote business through the planning, zoning and community development offices.

Another area under the mayor’s control is recreation. She said she plans to build upon the success of the city Recreation Department by expanding after-school and summer programming, increasing adult recreational opportunities and finding new space for new programming.

She’s got practical ideas for addressing the city’s homeless problem, in part through making more services available to those who need it through a drop-in center.

There are other problems beyond the mayor’s purview, including the controversial police matters and the Caroline Street problems. But from her role as the city’s mayor, West could provide guidance and coordination needed to resolve the issues.

Her opponents are longtime city businessman and former city Public Safety commissioner Ron Kim and current Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton.

Both have strengths that they would bring to the mayor’s office, including business acumen. But Kim’s ideas for a security area around the entertainment district and his planned active role in public safety matters demonstrates he may try to exceed his authority as mayor, further contributing to existing conflicts and division in the city.

Dalton also had some good solutions to city issues, including the homeless problem. But her questionable management of the city police response to the Caroline Street and BLM issues and her failure to be honest about her bankruptcy leave us with concerns about her ability to effectively manage the mayor’s office.

Of the three candidates, Heidi Owen West has the demeanor, experience and management skills to best serve the city as mayor.

Voters should cast their vote for West on Nov. 2.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion, Saratoga County

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