Friday, 25 October 2013 16:03

Web Extra: Saratoga Springs Mayor and County Supervisor Candidates Meet the Voters

By Arthur Gonick | News

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The candidates for the final two contested city elections met in the second League of Women Voters (LWV) of Saratoga’s Meet the Candidates Forum on Thursday, October 24 at the Saratoga Springs High School auditorium. 

The races that were covered at this event were the Saratoga County Supervisors and Saratoga Springs Mayor. The moderator was Deb Peck Kelleher of LWV.
In the county supervisor race, two people will be elected.The three candidates that are vying for this office are incumbent Matthew E. Veitch (R, I, C) challenger Kenneth Ivins (R, C) and challenger Peter R. Martin (D, I, WF).The three candidates began with opening statements that primarily detailed their unique experiential mixes and how those backgrounds would best serve the position.
Veitch has served as supervisor for six years and is running for his fourth term. He cited founding the county trails committee, chairing the racing committee and his membership on the technology committee as highlights. Ivins listed his terms as the city’s finance commissioner and president of the chamber of commerce in Clifton Park. Martin listed a background that combined the private and public sectors. He was a senior vice president and General Counsel for Ayco financial services and currently serves as Saratoga County Clerk.
All three candidates were very well prepared and in the overwhelming majority of cases directly answered the questions that were asked instead of steering it to a pre-packaged campaign policy plank. There was also substantial agreement on issues, particularly in the case of Veitch and Ivins.
Martin did disagree with Veitch on the issue of casino gambling, in that should the statewide Proposition 1 pass, Veitch had said he would move immediately to pass a county supervisor resolution to locate the casino in Saratoga. Martin felt that it would be better to wait until the pulse of the community was taken and to use such a resolution as a bargaining chip to obtain cooperation with the future casino site to cooperate with and work in a way that would not hurt entertainment venues such as SPAC as well as downtown Saratoga as a whole.
The mayoral candidates, Deputy Mayor Shauna M. Sutton (R, C) and County Supervisor Joanne D. Yepsen (D, I, WF) were similarly well-prepared, both having benefitted from two previous head-to-head meetings.
But any comparison of their third meeting to the earlier supervisor forum ended there. There were several sharp differences on nearly issue raised by the questions coming from the audience. 
Beginning with disagreeing with whose experience–appointed in the mayor’s office versus elected to the county board of supervisors – best qualified them for the mayor’s role, to whether it is proper for a mayoral candidate to accept an endorsement from an entity that they will be negotiating with, to potentially removing housing authority board members, through whether the current mayor’s office was a fortress to limit access by design or for mandated security and a host of other issues, the mayoral candidates made it clear that there was going to be a clear, distinctive choice to make when deciding who to vote for on November 5.
One interesting wrinkle that took place in this forum that was not present in Tuesday’s candidate debate was the option of a red “wild card,” which was given to each candidate to employ at their option, one time to add an extra 90 seconds to their speaking time.
In Yepsen’s case, it was used to emphatically repel an attempt by Sutton to say she was still committed to exploring the use of Saratoga Lake as a water source (Sutton had read a letter signed by Yepsen and others that was dated in 2005, before Yepsen had been elected).
It was obvious to this observer that Yepsen had seen this one coming. To use a sports analogy, like Darrelle Revis watching a quarterback’s eyes, Yepsen stepped in front of the pass, intercepted and scored–clearly a “pick six.”
In a similarly strategic vein, Sutton used her card to continue speaking on the recreation issue, specifically to impart a statistic that contradicted the notion that the new recreation center was a costly drain of resources. Sutton noted that recreation, including all facilities, cost a household just $1.75 per week—a number that actually was lower than before the recreation center was constructed.
It was the use of that wild card that showed each mayoral candidate’s depth of preparation best. While partisans on either side will advocate about who won or lost, the winner ultimately is the city and its residents.

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