Saratoga County

Abrupt resignation in Ballston Spa yields candidates for mayor, trustee in March special election

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BALLSTON SPA — After 24 years of the same face in the mayor’s office, a special village election could seat the third person to serve in the role since October.

The Village Board of Trustees, which has been short-handed by one since the abrupt resignation of former Mayor Larry Woolbright, will hold a special election on March 15 for the mayor’s seat and a trustee position.

Village Clerk Teri O’Connor didn’t respond to an email asking for candidate names.

But Republicans Frank Rossi Jr. and Bernadette VanDeinse-Perez issued a joint statement stating they are running for mayor and trustee, respectively, and that Village of Ballston Spa Republicans unanimously endorsed the duo.

Rossi said Mayor Christine Fitzpatrick, Woolbright’s former deputy, is running to reclaim the seat she’s held since November, while Democrat Kamran Parwana is running for trustee.

Fitzpatrick did not return a message Thursday.

Woolbright, a retired Siena College biology professor, was elected to a four-year term in 2019. Woolbright succeeded retired Mayor John Romano, who had served in the role from 1995 to 2019.

In a statement, Rossi said:

“I’m thrilled by the support for my mayoral candidacy from so many villagers, and I’m excited to be running with such a professional, positive, and experienced trustee candidate as Bernadette. It’s time for our ‘Village of Friends’ to again become government ‘for the people and by the people.’ It means always listening to the ideas and needs of the residents and taxpayers, whether we agree or not. It also means ensuring the priorities and spending of our Village government match the ideas and needs of the people.

“Unfortunately, the current Village Board has stated they have felt ‘threatened’ by contrary viewpoints being expressed. I view such viewpoints as healthy involvement and fresh ideas. The myopic attitude of our Village Board cannot continue unchecked, and we hope village voters will agree and vote for us on March 15.”

VanDeinse-Perez said:  

“Ballston Spa is an exceptional community and made so by those who made their lives here, started businesses and thrown themselves into the many wonderful volunteer organizations serving our community. However, residents have grown frustrated. They are ignored by the current Village Board and are tired of the lack of measurable action. I know we can do better for our residents,” said VanDeinse-Perez. “I am honored to receive the Republican endorsement for Trustee and am looking forward to the energy from Frank as the mayoral candidate. I can’t wait to hit the ground running, listening to residents and sharing how my years of experience can help our community.”

In March 2021, the village held its first non-partisan village elections, including a five-way race for two seats on the Village Board of Trustees won by Shawn Raymond and Ben Baskin.

Seven months later, Woolbright abruptly resigned while issuing a rebuke of Baskin and Liz Kormos, two of the four Democrats who serve on the board. 

On Nov. 8, the board, in a motion by Baskin, seconded by Kormos, appointed Fitzpatrick to serve as mayor. Raymond said Fitzpatrick is believed to be the village’s first female to serve as mayor.

Fitzpatrick, in a statement on the village website this month, spoke of Ballston Spa’s bright future, and its renaissance in recent years including a rebirth of the village’s business districts, as well as a renewed focus on improving its infrastructure, transportation, parks and sidewalks.

During a recent board meeting, Fitzpatrick addressed what she said were village residents’ “frustration” about the idea that the village does too much planning. She said there hadn’t been a great deal of planning done in recent years and the board’s planning aimed to move the village forward.

Parwana has said on social media that he’s running to ensure that the village is well-positioned to win a fair share of recent federal funding.

Rossi has been critical of the board, questioning whether it followed Roberts Rules of order and that it had moved into executive session with only two trustees, according to minutes from a November meeting.

A Harvard Law graduate, Rossi said he moved to the area in 1978, attending St. Mary’s School, Saratoga Central Catholic High School, and Union College. He has been engaged with local government for years and is often found at village and other municipal meetings advocating on matters concerning the village’s fiscal practices and infrastructure investment.

VanDeinse-Perez is a lifelong resident who graduated from Ballston Spa High School in 2001 before graduating from the University at Albany. She is currently working in the New York State Assembly and is on the Milton Planning Board and Village of Ballston Spa Zoning Board of Appeals. 

Board members are seeking to have village elections be conducted by the Saratoga County Board of Elections after the special election in March.

The board recently voted in favor of placing on the March 15 ballot a proposition regarding the timing of the election.

It will read: “Shall the elections for the Village of Ballston Spa be changed from every other year on the 3rd Tuesday of March … to every other year on the date of the general election which is the 2nd Tuesday after the 1st Monday of November beginning on the general election of November 2023?”

Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected]

Categories: News, Saratoga County

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