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Challenger Holmes Faces Incumbent Kelly In Saratoga Mayoral Race

Saratoga Springs City Hall
Lucas Willard

Voters in Saratoga Springs will determine the makeup of the city council on Election Day. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports on the race for mayor.

First-term Democrat Meg Kelly says there are three C’s that define her leadership style.

“Collaborate, compromise, and communicate. And these are the guiding concepts of my administration,” said Kelly.

In her two years as mayor of the Spa City, Kelly says she’s brought civility back to city council meetings and accomplished long-awaited projects. Recently: a groundbreaking for a downtown parking garage, ending litigation on the Geyser Road trail project, and finding a temporary home for the Code Blue emergency homeless shelter as the city searches for a permanent location.

She also says she’s been working on finding a location for a new fire/EMS station on the city’s east side.

“And I do believe that I’m looking at a parcel of land and hopefully in the next day or so we’ll be able to at least let the public know where that land is,” said Kelly.

When Kelly announced her run for re-election in February, and for the next several months, local Republican committees had not lined up a challenger.

“That is a feather in my cap that the other side is saying, ‘Yes, you are doing a good job’ along with my Democrats and the Independents, I mean, I really feel that I work across party lines and people see that I’m working hard for the people of Saratoga Springs,” said Kelly.

She also points to her endorsements from the Independence Party, Working Families Party, and local unions.

But now, Kelly does face a challenge from businessman Tim Holmes, who formally announced his campaign in late September. Holmes said he began considering a run when he saw the vacancy on the ballot. 

“I thought it was on opportunity to step up and possibly be of service,” said Holmes.

Holmes said he approached leaders with the county and city Republican committees, who readied him for the race.

“They welcomed me to run, prepared petitions for me, and out I went,” said Holmes.

Like Kelly, Holmes touts his ability to find solutions in a civil way – he says he learned his style as the son of a diplomat.

“The way to get along with people is to allow for all points of view, but then to have everyone at the table and be able to discuss them in a reasonable way,” said Holmes.

Holmes has served on the Saratoga Springs Open Space Advisory Committee and the Smart City Broadband Commission. While living in Rutherford, New Jersey, Holmes served as city council president and acting mayor.

Holmes also supports a new east side fire/EMS station, charter revisions – though his campaign has not offered specifics — and support for business and cultural institutions.

Holmes wants to work with the local county board of supervisors to address issues like homelessness, and to develop a long-term plan for growth in the booming city.

“I believe one of the strengths I might bring is being able to work closely with the county, because I’ve been working for 20 years with county supervisors on regional projects, and I believe that therein lie solutions for our future,” said Holmes.

The race between Kelly and Holmes has been without major conflict, somewhat unusual for Saratoga Springs politics. Kelly and Holmes are abiding by a “Saratoga Standard” – a campaign decency agreement. Holmes says he’d like to set an example with his campaign. 

“And I believe that it is a good way to govern because it’s clearer to the residents who are the stakeholders, and it certainly makes for better results,” said Holmes.

Republicans haven’t won a city mayoral race since 2011.

Note 10/25/19: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that revisions to the Saratoga Springs city charter were approved by voters last year.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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