Three candidates for two open seats for County Supervisor for Saratoga Springs participated in a debate Thursday night.
Current supervisor Matthew Veitch is running on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence tickets. Saratoga County Clerk Peter Martin is running on the Democratic, Working Families, and Independence lines, and Kenneth Ivins, Jr., former Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner, is running on the Republican and Conservative lines.
Saratoga residents came prepared to the question-and-answer style debate moderated by the Saratoga Springs League of Women Voters on Thursday night.
The three candidates offered differing opinions on the county’s recent decision to end it’s $200,000 contract with the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation.
Ivins cited his experience working in economic development as past-president of the Clifton Park Chamber of Commerce. He said that he hopes to find new ways for the county to work with SEDC.
"I feel if there's anybody out there that can work closely to try to find a good, solid working relationship between the county and them I'm one of the people that can help make that happen," said Ivins.
Veitch claimed that the working relationship with SEDC and the county had declined in recent years, and defended the county’s move to develop its own economic development strategic plan.
"I think it's a good thing for the county to do that and I think at the end of the day I think it's a good thing for Saratoga Springs to be involved in that process going forward," said Veitch.
Martin said he was disappointed with the county’s move to separate itself from SEDC and hoped for a strategy that could have avoided it.
"Im not sure why we couldn't have tried to just keep a piece of the SEDC relationship," said Martin.
A question of the viability of a new casino for Saratoga Springs if New York’s casino referendum is approved in November also drew varied answers from the candidates.
Veitch is not giving a public opinion on the casino referendum. However if it passes, he said he would like the county to act quickly to sell the city and the Saratoga Casino and Raceway as an ideal location for a proposed casino.
If Saratoga Springs is chosen as a location the city and county are looking at a potential $11.4 million in revenue to split. Veitch said the money should be partly used to mitigate the potential negative impacts of a casino, including investments in programs to treat gambling addiction and to promote the other assets the city has to offer.
"We all need to work together to make that happen," said Veitch. "Whether you're in the casino interest, whether you're a downtown business owner, whether you're a resident of the community that has a concern. I think we all need to work together to make sure this is successful for us going forward."
Since 20 percent of the state’s casino siting decision is based on community support, Martin said the county should proceed cautiously and hold forums to gauge the public’s opinion before showing its full support for the casino location.
"I don't think that you should rush to a resolution from the board of supervisors," said Martin. "I think that what you do is have community forums and you find out what the community wants to do so you're not giving away that bargaining chip that we would otherwise have in putting together a partnership."
Ivins also showed his support for more community conversation on expanding casino gambling.
"Bring in consultants, have community forums, talk about some of the things we could to do form a partnership so it benefits the entire community," said Ivins.
The three candidates also were asked for their ideas on the privatization of the Maplewood Manor nursing home, if they plan on revisiting the county’s Green Infrastructure plan, and their plans for commercial development in the county.
Voters must choose two of the three candidates in November. Current Supervisor Joanne Yepsen is leaving her position to campaign for Mayor of Saratoga Springs.