There are a lot of factors that voters can consider to determine whether a candidate is qualified for elected office.
Competence. Experience. A political philosophy that matches the voter’s.
But there’s one factor above all others that voters should use to automatically disqualify a candidate: Abuse of power.
And that’s what disqualifies Michele Madigan for re-election as Saratoga Springs finance commissioner.
And it’s why in the end, city voters have no choice but to vote for her opponent, Democrat Patricia Morrison, in Tuesday’s election.
Two emails in particular reveal that as commissioner, Madigan not only used her office to give special treatment, but also used her position as leverage to exact political revenge and withhold her favor.
As reported in The Gazette on Thursday, Madigan was reportedly upset that a local businessman had hosted a fund-raiser for Morrison at his restaurant. So she sent him an email stating in part that he could no longer rely on her for assistance in matters of the kind she rendered in the past. “You can get in line like everyone else,” she wrote.
She topped it off with an implication that she would investigate code violations that she knew about but up until that point hadn’t pressed.
“I hear you have a lot of code violations by the way. Enjoy,” she wrote.
We’ve all said things in anger that we later regret. That’s not the issue here.
Demonstrating favoritism and exacting revenge, even once, is unacceptable from a public official.
From now on, there always will be people wondering if one well-connected constituent is getting special treatment at another’s expense, or if someone is being punished for getting on Madigan’s bad side.
Patricia Morrison has a business background, has served on the school board, has some legitimate criticism of city government and some good ideas for addressing some of the city’s issues.
But she has a reputation for being assertive and even combative at times. Because of that, some will view her more as a disruptive force than a team player.
We considered that a strike against her, too — at first.
But in the go-along-to-get-along atmosphere revealed in Madigan’s emails, we’ve begun to see Morrison’s disruptive nature as an asset for city taxpayers.
Perhaps someone like that is exactly what this city needs right now.
No one has a right to public office. One has to earn the voters’ trust.
Michele Madigan has lost it. Voters should elect Patricia Morrison to help restore it.