SARATOGA SPRINGS -- There will be a Democratic primary for Saratoga Springs commissioner of finance in June, and it may well decide the November election.
Patty Morrison, a Democrat, announced over the weekend that she will challenge incumbent Democratic Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan in a June 25 primary. Madigan was endorsed previously by the city's Democratic Committee, and the city Republicans are putting up no challenger in the November election.
Morrison, a product marketing manager at CommerceHub in Albany, is also a member of the Saratoga Springs Board of Education. As qualifications, she is touting her experience in corporate project management, noting that she has worked for Fortune 500 companies including Panasonic, Citibank and Canon.
"I am eager to use my 25 years of experience managing multi-million-dollar projects for Fortune 500 technology companies to ensure that the city budget reflects the priorities of our citizens and is a sound investment in the long-run prosperity of the city," Morrison said in her campaign announcement.
Under the city's unusual commissioner form of government, the part-time finance commissioner oversees preparation and administration of the city's annual budget, while also serving as one of five members of the City Council. The mayor and each commissioner is paid $14,000 annually.
On Monday, Madigan said she's proud of her record, and intends to seek re-election for a fifth two-year term. Even if she were to lose the Democratic line, she would have the Independence and Working Families ballot lines in November, and said she would continue on them.
"I think my record speaks for itself. Seven years, no tax increases, we have maintained all essential city services and increase our fire and police services," Madigan said. "We've re-financed debt twice, saving the city $3.6 million [over the life of the bonds]. The city's credit rating was upgraded to Aa2 while I was in office, which is why we could do that."
Morrison said that if she does not win the primary, she will not pursue an independent or third-party ballot line.
Morrison said she is a member of Soroptomists International of Saratoga County, Sustainable Saratoga, and the League of Women Voters, and believes she would emphasize new priorities if she were elected to the council.
"When I talk to citizens, I hear them talk about how we are becoming a city for wealthy tourists, rather than for residents," Morrison said. "We need to make development about what is best for the city, not what's most profitable for developers."
Madigan said she considers herself progressive, noting her efforts to launch a community solar energy project, increase internet access, and supports the Smart Cities initiative.
"I consider myself a good Democrat who runs on Democratic principles," Madigan said.
Morrison was elected to the Board of Education in 2018, with a term that runs through 2021. She can serve on the school board while a candidate for a different elected office, even if she wins the primary, but if she were elected finance commissioner in November she would need to resign from the board before taking office.
"If I’m fortunate enough to be elected as the next commissioner of finance, I would have the ability to serve the city and local families in an even more significant way," Morrison said in email on Monday.
As a member of the Board of Education, Morrison last fall voted against allowing school monitors to again carry firearms -- a position that earned her criticism from a citizen group that believes armed monitors would increase school safety. The armed-monitor issue is at the heart of a fiercely fought school board race currently underway, but Morrison is not among the incumbent members up for election this year.
Morrison said she expects to be able to continue working in her private sector job if elected. "My employer is aware and fully supportive of my run for commissioner of finance. As an elected commissioner, I will be 100 percent committed and prepared to carving out the significant time necessary to
The finance commissioner contest will be the city's only primary, but some contests are expected in the Nov. 5 election.
In the general election: Republican Robin Dalton and Democrat Kendall Hicks will compete for what will be an open public safety commissioner seat; Democrat Dillon Moran is challenging incumbent Republican Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco for his position; and Republican Stephen Mittler is challenging Democratic incumbent Tara Gaston for a county supervisor's seat representing the city.