SARATOGA SPRINGS – Several members of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee staged a walk-out last week, voicing their opposition to a candidate chosen by city voters for a seat on the City Council.
In this summer’s Democratic Primary for the party’s representation for Commissioner of Finance. challenger Patty Morrison defeated incumbent Michele Madigan by a 736-705 vote count. The city Democratic Committee (SSDC) had endorsed Madigan prior to the primary.
“We are resigning because we are unable to support Ms. Morrison for the position of Commissioner of Finance,” announced Charles Brown during an Aug. 1 press conference at High Rock Park, flanked by nearly a dozen others who presented themselves as resigning members of the SSDC.
“We cannot support Patty Morrison for this position and stay on in the Committee,” Brown said, adding the resigning members believe Morrison “unqualified and ill-suited” for the office. “We’re all strong lifelong Democrats and plan to be Democrats, but we are Democrats that are independent of party (now), meaning therefore we can support a candidate without crossing the dictate of the party.”
The resignations follow last month’s walk-out of five members who served on the SSDC Executive Committee.
Morrison countered that what matters most is the voice of resident city voters. “Saratoga Springs citizens have spoken and the message is clear -- from what was said at the doors and most importantly at the ballot box in the recent election -- we are not happy with the current Commissioner of Finance, poor decisions at the Council table and we ultimately voted for change,” Morrison said in a statement.
Morrison - on the Democratic line, and Madigan – who will appear on the Independence Party and Working Families Party lines, will face one another in the citywide general election on Nov. 5 when all five City Council positions, as well as two Saratoga Springs Supervisor seats, will be up for vote.
There is no Republican candidate challenging for the seat of Commissioner of Finance.
“The June primary was about whose name will appear on the Democratic line for the office of Finance Commissioner this fall. But in November, every voter will be able to take part in choosing who actually wins this office,” Madigan said.
“I have a strong record of achievement and a well-earned reputation for integrity, ethics, and transparency,” said Madigan, announcing the launch of a non-partisan coalition called One Saratoga, “to unite voters from across the political spectrum who share a common purpose of sustaining and enhancing the vibrancy of our great city.”
The Democratic Primary on June 25 returned 1,447 total ballots - there were 6 non-named write-in ballot votes - representing about 21.5 percent of the 6,730 registered city Democrats. The 1,447 number of votes represents an increase over the last Democratic Primary in Saratoga Springs, where a total of 913 voters participated in the 2015 vote for Public Safety Commissioner.
The SSDC elected Sarah J. Burger as its new chair at an Aug. 7 meeting. A native of Saratoga Springs, Burger is founding partner at Burger Law Group PLLC and has been a longtime committee member. The committee also elected Cassandra Bagramian as its new treasurer. Bagramian is the Democratic deputy commissioner for Saratoga County Board of Elections.
Brown said the resigning members made a concerted effort to announce their departure as soon as was possible to allow remaining committee members “to follow through with the work that they needed to do. We’ve left them with $10,000 that we have earned over the years, we’ve left them with ramp-up manuals for procedures, and procedures for sub-committees.”
Todd Kerner, chairman of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee, said “the Democratic Committee is like a family, we sometimes argue and disagree due to the passion we bring to public service. We want to thank those who are leaving for their hard work and dedication. We continue to move ahead with an excellent slate of candidates and look forward to the November elections.”
"There are a number of citizens eagerly waiting to join the committee and work in accordance to the will of the voters we are elected to serve,” Morrison said. “It is not unusual for there to be a change when leadership and the will of the electorate are misaligned. Our City Democratic Committee will be stronger going forward.