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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Joanne D. Yepsen, 56, (DEM, WF) is seeking a second term as Mayor of Saratoga Springs. We met for her interview in the Beekman Arts District, where it became clear that it was a favorite place because she had a history to tell of several of the buildings and businesses as we walked along the street.
“I love the arts and this mixed-use district,” she said. “Everything about this section is a microcosm of our city history.” She recalled a cleanup party at 69 Beekman; noted Beekman Street Bistro as the city’s first farm-to-table restaurant; and spoke highly of the growth of the Textile Studio. She said she was proud of her contributions to the area and throughout the city during her time in public service.
Among her accomplishments as mayor, she listed the resolution of labor contracts; ending homelessness for veterans in the city; preservation of the Pitney Farm; the first updated comprehensive plan in 14 years; opening the waterfront park and more. “What an amazing year, Centennial Year 2015,” Yepsen said. “Moving forward, we need to be really proactive regarding the economy. The Textile Studio is an example of the creative economy creating jobs, but we also have the performing arts, the high tech industry, hospitality and tourism, and encouraging the film industry here.”
If elected to another term, Yepsen also wants to – among other things – continue work on the greenbelt-downtown connector; increasing the city’s walkable and bikeable status; and start to do a full Complete Street plan. Yepsen prioritizes the “city in the country” theme, and is seeking to balance City Center parking needs with potential mixed-use proposals, such as workforce housing.
For the golf resort proposal by Saratoga National, she said she is seeking a “full conservation easement assurances, assurances that the greenbelt trail will be built on the property, nothing short of a 3,000 foot setback, and minimum of 90 percent open space preserved.”
She said the applicant keeps changing the proposal, but she wants to work with them because she doesn’t want to see the property sold and turned into 40 houses. “To me, that’s sprawl,” Yepsen said. “There’s going to have to be some very tight clustering to keep as much green space as possible. We’ll be working with the special assessment district and downtown businesses – which are our staple – because we can’t have retail and commercial sprawl there, either. We have to be careful not to set precedents and look at the overall plan.”
For Yepsen’s biographical information and endorsements, please visit LWVSaratoga.org.
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.
Letter to the Editor:
Please give your support to John Safford in his run for Mayor of Saratoga.
I have never known a more honest and candid person than John Safford.
John is a sincere man of high intelligence, integrity, patience, compassion and has a very positive attitude every time I see him, which is once a week for the past three years when we meet for conversation and coffee.
John is a former intelligence officer of the US Army, for whom I have great respect, and am proud to be his friend. John is running for Mayor of Saratoga, and I wholeheartedly endorse him for that office.
John is a person who cares about people and taking care of their needs, having managed the needs of thousands of homeowners as manager of a homeowners' association in the Saratoga area for many years now. Even when we have our meetings together, he usually will be interrupted with a phone call or two by a client with a special problem that needs attention. John is quick to respond and take care of it.
And I have never heard him get angry or impatient while talking with a client.
To get the word out, John has knocked on over 3200 doors in Saratoga, and he tells me he enjoys it, having gotten the opportunity to talk to scores of people about why he is running for office and the issues that Saratoga is facing.
If John happens to knock on your door, please take the opportunity to talk with him. You will never meet a more likeable and gracious man than John Safford.
- Rev. David Bauscher, Cambridge, NY