Three Running For Mayor In South Glens Falls
Three candidates running for mayor of South Glens Falls in northern Saratoga County met in a forum Wednesday night.
On the ballot are incumbent Independent mayor Joe Orlow, Democrat Brigid Martin, and Republican Harry Gothiel, Jr., a former Moreau town supervisor.
The forum at the Oliver W. Winch Middle School in South Glens Falls was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County.
Following a village trustee forum, the mayoral candidates answered audience questions, each attempting to set themselves apart.
Republican Gothiel, who is also running on the “Taxpayers First” ballot line with two trustee candidates, claimed to be a “voice of reason” regarding spending.
But the first thing he mentioned in his opening remarks were what he said were untrue rumors circulating within the village.
“They’re about employees losing their jobs, reducing hours to part-time and cutting services. I can only tell you there is no truth to them. If employees are doing their jobs they don’t have to worry,” said Gothiel.
Gothiel, who served as Moreau supervisor for 11 years, said he would ease financial pressure by touting his negotiating skills to avoid costly litigation with public employees and pursue village projects “in-house” without contractors, and to have realistic expectations of growth.
He also slammed the mayor for proposing a 33 percent tax increase last year that was eventually cut down to 15 percent.
“For four years I’ve warned the board and was ignored. We wouldn’t be in this unfavorable position we are in if they had listened,” said Gothiel.
Democrat Brigid Martin is not a stranger to village meetings and runs a political Facebook page where she posts her views on goings-on in the village of about 3,500.
Martin claimed to represent the “silent majority” in South Glens Falls.
“I want to bring leadership back to village hall. I want to improve communication so that the residents feel like they’re really involved with their government, that they know what’s going on, that they can trust what they’re told, and that there is total transparency in everything that we do,” said Martin.
Martin mentioned more than once the importance of utilizing the village riverfront and said she’d like to see more outdoor events and food trucks in the area to attract visitors and new business.
Mayor Orlow, who is running on his own “Just Vote Joe Orlow” line, is seeking a second four-year term. He said the village is moving forward and asked for voters to back him again to continue that progress.
“Some say it needs to be great again. My thought is that it always has been great. I think if the negative gestures would cease, I think the blind eye would see [what] so many have seen,” said Orlow.
Orlow said he’d improve the village by attracting development, developing new busines and pursuing grants for the village’s downtown. Orlow also was put in the position of defending the village’s shrinking fund balance and a controversial tax hike.
More than once, the audience questioned the candidates about the village water system. Not all residents have metered water and some believe that if they did, they’d be charged less.
Martin says the four current types of water billing need to brought into a uniform system. Orlow agreed the billing situation needed a fix and defended his implementation of a committee to examine the issue. The village was scheduled to discuss metering next week. Gothiel said meters are the finest way to charge customers equitably but that the village should refocus its priorities on improving water infrastructure.
The forum continued for more than an hour and drew some animated questions and responses from the crowd.
At one point, current Moreau supervisor, Republican Gardner Congdon, who is not running for mayor, took issue with a comment by Orlow and attempted to argue his point during a time reserved for audience questions. That led to shouting.
Congdon attempted to speak to the room after his microphone was turned off, before stepping away.
Village elections will be held March 21st.