Ballston Spa trustees bicker over ethics board appointments


BALLSTON SPA–The Ballston Spa Board of Trustees sparred over members of the Board of Ethics on Monday night, with the three Democratic members voting against the appointments of two sitting ethics board members supported by Mayor Frank Rossi Jr. in favor of two of their own nominees.

The Board of Trustees confirmed the appointments of Danielle Thomson and Catherine Curvin and denied the appointments of Donna Duffy and Lloyd Helman, both sitting members. The decisions prompted several residents at the meeting to call for an end to partisan politics interfering with village business.

Daily Gazette: All NewsEverything Saratoga Springs-Ballston Spa

“We’re still a completely divided community. We’ve got to start trying to work together,” said Pete Martin. “What’s happening in our village is not good at all, and you guys could have changed it by just letting them [Duffy and Helman] stay on.”

Democratic members said they had different reasons for not supporting Duffy and Helman. Their concerns about Duffy had to do with the fact that she spends several months a year out of state. Their concerns with Helman had to do with the fact that there was no official record of his 2020 appointment–something that Rossi said was an clerical oversight. Democrats also expressed a desire to bring fresh perspectives into village leadership.

Meanwhile, Rossi, along with Republican trustee Bernadette VanDeinse-Perez, questioned Thomson and Curvin’s commitment. Duffy, who spoke via Zoom, was the only one of the four appointees discussed to be present at Monday’s meeting.

“I don’t know who the hell Danielle Thomson is, to be honest with you,” Rossi said during the meeting.

Former Mayor Christine Fitzpatrick said Thomson is a 40-year resident who owns an antique business and has long been active in the community. Fitzpatrick called Thomson a “dear friend,” prompting snickers from the audience.

Fitzpatrick, a Democrat, lost a tight special election in March to Rossi. The former mayor faced criticism during her final meeting for appointing a political ally, Kamran Parwana, to the Zoning Board of Appeals instead of a member who has been serving as an alternate.

Monday night’s split vote represents a troubling dynamic for Rossi as he starts his mayoral term. In order to pass legislation, he’ll need to figure out a way to sway at least one of the Democratic trustees to vote with him.

Sitting in the minority, the mayor can do little more than plead for collaboration.

“This table is a no politics zone from here on out,” Rossi said. “I am sick of this.”

Public comment during the more than 3-hour meeting was largely against the Democrats. Several speakers questioned Trustees Ben Baskin and Liz Kormos about whether they actively recruited their nominees or if the nominees had come to them to express interest in the ethics board positions.

Neither gave a clear answer, with Kormos saying she couldn’t recall and Baskin saying the ethics board position came up casually in conversation.

After the meeting, Rossi said he was “disappointed,” but he believes he has public opinion on his side.

“The public is providing the help that the residents really want right now to sort of even out the vote in a way,” Rossi said. “It proves that everybody is going to be held accountable down the line.”

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.

Daily Gazette: All NewsEverything Saratoga Springs-Ballston Spa

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

Leave a Reply