Six months before election day, the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee has unveiled a full slate of candidates for city and county positions. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports the group includes some familiar faces.
Atop the Pavilion Grand hotel in a newly developed area of downtown Saratoga Springs, supporters gathered Tuesday to welcome a new set of candidates seeking office this November.
For the past four years, the council has been held by a four-to-one Democratic majority. The GOP would like to see the council returned to Republican control by filling two more seats.
And it is former City Center president Mark Baker who will head the ticket after kicking off his campaign for mayor. Working with the city, Baker ran the City Center for more than three decades. He recently retired from the position, but says he wants to stay involved in the city to see “first-hand” how projects can be developed and handled within the Spa City.
“And sometimes, I think, we have not done a very good job of nurturing our development and growth on a positive way. It doesn’t mean everything has to be approved but it does mean you have to give a fair hearing to all projects, all concepts,” said Baker.
In his former role, in recent years, Baker had struggled to make the construction of a City Center parking garage come to fruition. Although a five-story structure was approved by the city council, the project drew criticism from objectors and neighbors and has been held up by lawsuits.
Baker also made ethics a central theme of his campaign kickoff, and said he wants to have city employees complete an ethics training course.
“Personally, ethics in business has been what has allowed the City Center to proposer. You know, you say what you do and you do what you say. When that model is not there, then you have a problem in how you have continue to do business and how you can continue to maintain a positive sense of balance and integrity,” said Baker.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen, a Democrat, has not yet formally announced her run for a third term. She was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
Another new candidate seeking office is Don Braim, a former Saratoga Springs police investigator and a retired Senior Vice President of Racing Operations at Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc.. Braim is running for Public Safety Commissioner, a post being vacated by Democrat Chris Mathiesen.
Braim said he’s always missed public service since retiring from the police department after two decades and wants to continue doing work that he thinks he will enjoy.
“And that makes a difference, I think, your ability to perform in what you can give back to the community,” said Braim. “If you’re happy in what you do, I think that’s better.”
Braim is running against Democratic county supervisor Peter Martin.
With Martin leaving county service, 2015 mayoral candidate John Safford is trying another go-around in city politics.
“I got the bug to serve,” said Safford. “I also think I can do an excellent job.”
Supervisor Matt Veitch is seeking re-election, as is Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.
Andrew Blumenberg is running for City Court judge.
The Saratoga Springs Republican Committee has not endorsed a candidate for Commissioner of Accounts, a seat held by Democrat John Franck, or Commissioner of Finance, held by Democrat Michele Madigan.
Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee Chair Charles Brown said the Democrats will announce their full slate of candidates in the coming weeks.
“Our endorsement meeting will be on the 20th of May and we are excited by not only the depth of qualifications of our candidates but the diversity that they will bring,” said Brown.
In addition to choosing city leaders, Saratogians will also vote this November on a new city charter. A draft plan calls for a change to a council-manager type of government, but a final document has not been released.