SARATOGA SPRINGS – John F. Safford, 70, (REP, CON, IND, RFM) Professional Managing Agent, CMCA, is a newcomer to politics, seeking the office of Mayor of Saratoga Springs as his first run. For his interview, we met at the beautiful grounds of the Pine Grove Family Camp, one of his favorite places in Saratoga, where he is a trustee and treasurer.
“I love this place,” he said. “We fight to keep this camp viable, as pristine as possible. I am a peaceful person, and although I work on real issues, I am still peaceful inside and this place reminds me of that. I love that in Saratoga we have open space and beautiful trees like this, but we need a balance between our ecological goals and property rights. We need to continue our growth as a year-round destination and place to live.”
Safford’s military service included a stint in Japan in the Army Security Agency, where he worked on security and information. “Yes, I was a spy,” he said. After his honorable discharge in 1973, that experience informed his business career, where he developed further expertise in computers and information technology, applying it to emergency services for municipalities, among other things.
“I have been in every emergency service bunker in the state,” Safford said. This peaceful person has decades of experience in helping cities and towns of all sizes plan for the worst. Given that, a logical question was why run for mayor rather than public safety commissioner?
“My strongest gift is being able to pull different departments and agencies together,” he said, “which is vital to emergency planning, but especially needed as a mayor. My work has involved finance and budgeting, public works, and public safety, and I can bring people together to get things done. I think the mayor’s role is where I can do the most good for Saratoga Springs.”
Safford also feels his business experience will help Saratoga’s economic vitality. If elected, he intends to plan for responsible growth, providing quicker turnaround for permitting and doing more for entrepreneurs and business owners. “The Mayor’s department has a fund that most people are not aware of,” he said. “The capital improvement loan capability of the office of economic development is not used properly. It’s very difficult for business owners to spend time searching for capital, and those with capital think businesses will come to them. I can put those two together.”
Safford’s goals also include improving parking and infrastructure, improving communication between departments, and enhancing downtown safety and quality of life. He supports parking over mixed-use for the High Rock lot because the demand for parking for existing businesses in the area in addition to the City Center’s needs is higher than the need for senior or other housing and businesses in that particular location. He also supports a golf resort at Saratoga National.
For Safford’s biographical information and endorsements, please visit LWVSaratoga.org.