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Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen Seeks A Second Term

Lucas Willard

Supporters joined the Democratic incumbent inside the Henry Street Taproom downtown. Joanne Yepsen, who began her first term as mayor in January 2014, is seeking another two-year term.

With two-year terms for the five members of the city council, including the mayor, political stakes are high in the Spa City.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy opened up the event by handing the microphone to Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko. Tonko, who spoke at McCarthy’s own re-election bid three weeks ago, also gave his endorsement to Yepsen.

“I present to you, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, a candidate for re-election for her first bid for re-election as mayor of Saratoga Springs, Heart and soul, passion and purpose , Joanne Yepsen,” said Tonko.

Yepsen touted some of her accomplishments done in her first year-and-a-half on the job. She discussed the city’s ongoing work on a new comprehensive plan; sustainable development, including an in-the-works trail system; her appointment of volunteers to 12 separate committees, and a more open city hall.

“We are now listening, responding to constituents daily, people walking in, to a friendly mayor’s office – an inclusive mayor’s office – about their needs, ideas, and concerns. We are one city and we are working for everyone,” said Yepsen.

One of the mayor’s first actions was spearheading an effort to establish a Code Blue program in Saratoga Springs to give shelter to the city’s homeless on cold winter nights.

“And I’m very proud to announce we have completed here in Saratoga Springs our pledge to homeless veterans. All 18 homeless veterans identified in our city now have a roof over their heads and a safe place they can call home,” said Yepsen.

The mayor also said the city will establish a veterans’ hall of fame at city hall.

Yepsen addressed the long-standing debate over parking in the city. She briefly touched on the Saratoga Springs City Center’s bid for a parking garage. The need for the structure has been largely agreed upon, but residents have voiced concerns, notably the neighboring Mouzon House restaurant, which is claiming the structure would block its existing solar panels.

“Isn’t the recent decvision by the ZBA rejecting a proposed standalone parking garage on a city-owned property a wake-up call to the city council? The proposed structure adjacent to the historic High Rock Park should not force the current law on solar panels to change, especially when the city has committed to going solar and is encouraging others to do the same,” said Yepsen.

The mayor also touted the importance of the City Center and the bustling downtown. She said more transportation options were needed to get people into the city without using a car.

Yepsen, before being elected mayor, served four terms as a Saratoga Springs county supervisor.

The mayor faces a Republican challenger – local businessman and political newcomer John Safford. At his campaign announcement earlier this month, Safford called the current city government dysfunctional.

“Career politicians do everything they can to stay in power. They talk out of both sides of their mouth and pander to whomever they’re speaking to at the time. We need real leaders who are willing to buck the system and do what’s right and smart in the long-term, and in the best interest of all,” said Safford.

Yepsen concluded her speech by saying she’s seeking another term “to continue the good work we’ve started together.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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