Saturday, 08 April 2017 01:39

City Official Supports New Charter

Chris Mathiesen Chris Mathiesen Photo provided.

As many may have heard, I have decided not to run for a fourth term as Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Public Safety. Serving on the City Council and overseeing the operations of the police, fire/EMS, code enforcement, parking enforcement and animal control divisions over nearly five and a half years has been a great experience. However, I do believe that self-imposed term limits are a good thing. Such powerful positions ought not be held by one person for too long. Examples of office holders who should have given up their positions after a reasonable time are abundant.

I also have to admit that continuing to maintain my professional career in dentistry, while at the same time serving as Commissioner of Public Safety, is tiring. Carrying out these dual roles has actually become progressively more difficult each year, as city government requires more and more attention. Hopefully, this November our citizens will finally acknowledge that it is time for a dramatic change in city government. Responsibility for the day-to-day management of local government should not be entrusted to five politicians who, by definition, cannot be fully engaged in their roles.

Professional management and coordination of all city departments is seriously lacking under the present Commission form of government. The combination of legislative and executive duties that each of the five members of our City Council must take on are often contradictory and should be considered mutually exclusive. Polling of city employees who actually have to work under this system show that overwhelmingly they feel that the present form of government creates inefficiencies and obstacles.

It is time to discard the archaic Commission form of government as nearly every other municipality in the country has. Three different groups over the past eleven years have studied the problem and they have each come to this conclusion. The two most recent Charter Reform committees have concluded that a city of our size would best be served by a City Manager running the daily government activities and a separate legislative body composed of elected citizens whose duties and responsibilities would be much more reasonable than is the case with our present City Council.

I have observed that the great majority of our citizens do not know what each member of our present City Council actually does. They don’t understand how the Commission form of government works. It is hard to fathom what they have been basing their decisions on when they went to vote in city elections every two years. It is time for Saratoga Springs to have separation of powers with a legislative body composed of a broad array of residents whose talents and abilities will better guide this great community through the 21st century.

Please vote to change the City Charter on November 7.

Chris Mathiesen

Commissioner of Public Safety

Saratoga Springs 

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