In a process marked by cronyism and secrecy the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee voted to endorse all the current members of the City Council. The endorsements took place on Saturday, February 18, in a meeting closed to other Democrats. Elections for the city's Mayor and four Commissioners as well as for two County Supervisors will be held this November.
The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee established a nominating committee to recommend to the full committee Democratic candidates to run in the upcoming 2023 local city election. The committee was chaired by Patty Morrison and included Joanne Yepsen, Al Ormsby, Pat Tuz, and Meaghan McEntee.
The process was fraught with cronyism from the very beginning. Before the nominating committee was even formed, Committee Chair Pat Tuz and others in leadership positions were casually openly sharing that the decision had already been made to endorse all of the incumbents (Kim, Moran, Sanghvi, Golub, and Montagnino) to run again for their City Council positions.
In spite of this, three other Democrats filled out the committee's questionnaire and were interviewed by the nominating committee. They were:
Former Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen who interviewed for Mayor
Retired FBI agent Tim Coll who interviewed for the Commissioner of Public Safety position
Former Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan who interviewed for one of the two County Supervisor positions
None of the three were endorsed by the nominating committee. All three requested the opportunity to address the full Democratic Committee. All three were told no.
Here is the email Madigan sent to Pat Tuz requesting the opportunity to speak to the full committee:
I received a call today from Patty, on behalf of the endorsement council, that I will not be recommended to the full committee for an endorsement. I am disappointed and was hoping to present to the full committee. I have heard that I was presented to the county committee to run for supervisor, but I’m not sure if this means anything to the city committee.
Basically, I’m asking if I may please present to the committee. I am a 5 time endorsed democratic candidate who has won all my general elections overwhelmingly. I truly believe I am a benefit to the committee versus running on my own as a free agent.
Additionally, I think Chris Mathiesen should be allowed to present too. He is a lifetime democrat, 6 years elected and endorsed city commissioner, and 11 years and chair of the zoning board of appeals.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you,
Pat Tuz did not reply to Madigan's email.
Jane Weihe (full disclosure-Jane is my wife) emailed Pat Tuz regarding other Democrats attending the Committee's endorsement meeting.
When and where will the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee be meeting to make endorsements for candidates for this year’s City Council races? I know the County Committee meetings are open to all Democrats although only Committee members can participate in the meeting of course. I am assuming your committee follows the same procedures. A number of Democrats would like to observe your committee’s endorsement process. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Jane was the chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee for over a decade. She also served as Saratoga County Chair and was a member of the New York State Democratic Committee. She twice ran for local office on the Democratic ticket. Pat Tuz did not reply to her email.
The past practice of the city committee and the current practice of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee has been to allow any registered Democrat to attend their meetings. Only committee members can participate in the meeting, but any Democrat is welcome to observe. In addition, past city committees have not only allowed all candidates, whether endorsed by a nominating committee or not, to address the full committee, but nominations from the floor were also allowed. In fact, Patty Morrison, who chaired this year's nominating committee, was allowed a few years ago to address a full committee meeting and ask for support to run for Finance Commissioner even though she had not bothered to go through any of the nominating process.
All this is particularly ironic given the last local campaign when Democrats portrayed themselves as the bulwark of democracy defending the city against an alleged threat posed by our local Republicans. Remember their campaign signs that said, "Defend Democracy-Vote Democratic." It is an interesting phenomenon that self-righteous groups tend to take on the characteristics of those they see as their enemies.
A Word about the County Supervisor Race
Saratogians elect two Supervisors to represent them on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. The Democrats could nominate two people to run but decided to only support Gordon Boyd, rejecting Michele Madigan as a Democratic candidate to run for the second seat. This makes no sense. They have basically decided to allow Republican Matt Veitch to run unopposed. For a group that likes to portray local Republicans as evil incarnate, this is a pretty interesting move on the part of the Democratic Committee.
A Cautionary Word About Signing Petitions
Anyone seeking to run for a political office must circulate petitions to get on the ballot. Voters cannot sign more than one petition for the same office.
In spite of rejection by the Democratic Committee, Chris Mathiesen intends to still run for Mayor, Tim Coll will still run for Public Safety Commissioner, and Michele Madigan will run for Supervisor. They will need to gather signatures on petitions to get on the ballot to give voters a choice.
Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee members will also be circulating petitions for these offices at the same time. Their petitions will have the names of the current office holders -Kim, Moran, Golub, Sanghvi, Montagnino, plus Gordon Boyd for Supervisor. If a voter signs this petition, they cannot sign the petitions of Tim Coll, Chris Mathiesen, or Michele Madigan.
YOU CAN ONLY SIGN ONE. Petitioning begins on February 28 and will continue into the spring, with Republicans and Democrats circulating first. Petitions for candidates running on independent lines will follow later.
Anyone interested in supporting the three candidates (Mathiesen, Coll, Madigan) challenging the endorsed Democrats should decline to sign the petitions circulated on behalf of the incumbents