Democratic Saratoga County Supervisor Joanne Yepsen has defeated Deputy Saratoga Springs Mayor Shauna Sutton — a Republican — in a close race that will make Yepsen the next mayor of the Spa City.
At the end of the election night party where candidates and supporters watched results come in, Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko introduced Saratoga Springs Democratic mayoral candidate Joanne Yepsen before a crowd of supporters.
An unofficial tally showed Yepsen capturing about 52 percent of the vote. On January 1, Yepsen will step down from her four-term post as Saratoga County supervisor and head to the mayor’s office for a two-year term. Her Republican opponent, Deputy Mayor Shuana Sutton, has served with outgoing mayor Scott Johnson, who did not seek another term, for the past six years.
Upon taking the podium, Yepsen repeated some of her key campaign issues, including her promise to make City Hall more open to the public.
"This is going to be about being accessible, being inclusive, and hearing every voice across the city," said Yepsen.
Yepsen also campaigned on putting together a sustainable development plan for Saratoga Springs, a theme she also recognized in her remarks.
"This is about the future development of our city," said Yepsen. "This is about including all our package of assets because we have such diversity in the City of Saratoga Springs that makes us successful and we are going to balance that with the future growth and build sustainable practices."
Yepsen thanked her family and supporters, and also called up to the front of the room all of the Democrats who ran in this year’s general election.
Across Broadway, at Republican headquarters, Shauna Sutton spoke to her own group of supporters and family members. Sutton bowed out of the race and praised the crowd for helping her “keep it clean.”
"I"m really, really proud," said Sutton. "We ran a clean grass-roots campaign, we made a new friends, a lot of old friends came out, young adults, families, and it was really well done."
Sutton also hinted at a return to work with outgoing mayor Scott Johnson in some capacity.
"It's been quite a ride Scott, but you I think in the next few years you and I might be working together again," said Sutton.
Yepsen later thanked Sutton and said she hoped make the transition between administrations a smooth one.
“I thank her for her service, she has put in six years of hard work in City Hall and I appreciate that," said Yepsen. "It's not an easy task I'm sure - and we are going to make this transition as smooth as possible because I'm going to be a mayor who represents everyone regardless of political party."
As mayor, Yepsen will take her place within Saratoga Springs ahead of future negotiations that could open the door to a full resort-style casino project after voters across the state approved an amendment that would allow up to seven in the state. The Spa City has been considered as an area with high potential for a casino, and the Saratoga Casino and Raceway is pushing forward with a $30 million expansion project.
Although the proposal passed statewide, Saratoga County residents overall rejected the casino amendment 53 to 47 percent. Yepsen said she recognized that many county residents feared that Saratoga Springs could become “another Atlantic City.”
"I know I can work as a leader of this city to represent the people with the owners of the Saratoga casino and with the governor's office to make sure all our good, diverse package of assets are promoted and advanced in this city because that's what makes Saratoga Springs so successful," said Yepsen.
Meanwhile, Democrat John Franck defeated Republican challenger John Arpei to keep his post as Commissioner of Accounts. Democrat Michelle Madigan was unchallenged for reelection for Commissioner of Finance, and Republican Anthony “Skip” Scirocco defended his seat as Commissioner of Public Works from a challenge by Democrat William McTygue. Incumbent Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen, a Democrat, edged out a narrow lead over Republican challenger Richard Wirth; however, Wirth has not yet conceded and is reportedly waiting for absentee ballots to be counted.