Thursday, 08 April 2021 13:26

Saratoga Springs: Volatile Year for City Election Begins to Take Shape

Ron Kim announces his candidacy for mayor of Saratoga Springs.  The announcement was made at the 9/11 Memorial in High Rock Park on April 7, 2021. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos. Ron Kim announces his candidacy for mayor of Saratoga Springs. The announcement was made at the 9/11 Memorial in High Rock Park on April 7, 2021. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — All five seats on the City Council, as well as both supervisor positions, will be up for vote in November. Of those five council positions, at least four will look different, effectively creating a major overhaul of governing powers in City Hall. 

To date, 11 potential candidates have filed “designated petitions” to run for the five council seats. Six candidates have similarly filed regarding the city’s two supervisor positions up for election. 

This week, Democrat Ron Kim announced his candidacy for city mayor. 

“We have gone through difficult times.  We’ve lost good friends.  We have seen suffering. We have witnessed injustice.  As a community we will only recover if we come together,” Kim said, during his announcement staged in front of Saratoga Springs’ 9/11 Memorial in High Rock Park. Former elected city Democrats Peter Martin and Tom McTygue were in attendance.   

“I want to help this community come together. I will do it as your next mayor, as the People’s Mayor working for all of us,” Kim said. “In this new post-pandemic era, we need to have a kinder and more effective city government.” 

Kim, a local lawyer who served as Saratoga Springs’ Commissioner of Public Safety from 2006 to 2010, said If elected mayor, his top priorities would include building a long-discussed eastside public safety station, assisting city businesses in reopening safely while also developing long-term strategies to protect their viability, “reimagining” the city police force so there is accountability and transparency, and working with federal and state funding to develop green policies that create a carbon neutral Saratoga Springs by 2030.

The position of city mayor is one of several seats on the city council that will be inhabited by new candidates.  Eight-term Accounts Commissioner John Franck, five-term Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan and two-term Mayor Meg Kelly have each announced they will not seek reelection.  Additionally, current Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton recently announced she will seek re-election, but that she will do so as a “no party” member, after changing her party registration to no longer being an active member of the GOP. 

WHO IS RUNNING:

The 17 designated petitions filed by candidates are aligned with the four currently existing political parties. Recent changes in election law have altered the landscape regarding the number of political parties. Voters previously registered with the Green, Libertarian, Independence, or SAM party, are now considered No Party (NOP). The four political parties that now remain in New York State are Democratic, Republican, Conservative, and Working Families. 

The deadline for candidates to file designated petitions was March 25.  Independent petitions - that is, potential candidates interested in running for a city position under a newly created party – may still actively pursue their candidacy. In Saratoga Springs specifically, these independent candidates would need to secure 305 signatures. The timing-window to secure those signatures begins April 13, and they must be filed the week of May 18-25. 

What this means is that in addition to the 17 candidates aligned with existing parties vying for seven city seats, additional candidates, independent of the four existing parties, are expected to soon come forward. Of the 17, only three currently hold office and are seeking re-election.       

According to the Saratoga County Board of Elections, the 17 candidates who have filed designated petitions, their party affiliation, and the seat they seek is as follows: 

Mayor: Ronald Kim (D), Heidi Owen (R, C).
Accounts: Dillon Moran (D), Samantha Guerra (R,C).
DPW: Domenique Yermolayev (D), Anthony “Skip” Scirocco INCUMBENT (R, C). 
Finance: Minita Sanghvi (D), Joanne Kiernan (R,C), Sierra Hunt (WF).
Public Safety:  James Montagnino (D), Tracey Labelle (R,C).
Supervisor (two seats): Tara Gaston INCUMBENT (D, WF), Shaun Wiggins (D), Matthew Veitch INCUMBENT (R,C), John Safford (R,C), Bruce Altimar (WF), Gabriel O’Brien (WF). 

Supervisor seats will be up for vote in nearly all county municipalities in November, as well as an array of council and justice positions. County Sheriff and County Clerk will also be up for vote at Saratoga County. 

In Saratoga Springs, among approximately 20,000 registered voters, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about 2,000, according to the most recent (Feb. 21) party affiliation enrollment report from the New York State Board of Elections. That percent breakdown is roughly registered Democrats: 42%, registered Republicans: 32%, registered but unaffiliated with any party: 25%. City voters registered with the Conservative, and the Working Families parties account for the remaining less than 1%.   

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