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Candidates for Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Accounts meet in forum

Angela Rella speaks during a LWV voter forum
Zoom/YouTube/Image capture by WAMC
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Angela Rella speaks during a LWV voter forum

Three candidates are running for Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Accounts recently met for a virtual forum.

Democratic Commissioner of Accounts John Franck is stepping down after 16 years in City Hall, and three hopefuls are seeking to replace him.

Democrat Dillon Moran is running for the position after a failed bid for Commissioner of Public Works two years ago. The chemical engineer by training will also appear on the Resilient Saratoga line, along with other progressive-leaning candidates.

Republican Samantha Guerra is also in the running. The single mom of four touts her business and management experience running a regional Dunkin’ Donuts store and knowledge as a real-estate agent. Guerra is also appearing on the Conservative Party line, and is also part of a group of conservative-learning candidates on the Working Families Party line.

Angela Rella is running on her own Accountability Party line. The commercial attorney and first-time candidate also serves on the city’s Civil Service Commission, and cited her professional experience in her approach to the job.

All candidates participated in a recent forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County and were asked viewer-submitted questions.

Democrat Moran laid out his other priorities of supporting small business and infrastructure investment.

“We have major infrastructure issues in this city, and I intend to use the Office of Risk Management and my associations with… Congressman Tonko to make sure infrastructure money, when it does become available from the federal government, winds up in Saratoga Springs to help us solve problems.”

Guerra said she is a survivor of domestic violence, and said her family and children inspired her to run for office. The Republican spoke broadly about the city, which has experienced charged public meetings and an empowered racial justice movement that has challenged city leadership in conversations surrounding police reform. Guerra called for “respect, civility, and unity.”

“The Saratoga Springs we’ve been experiencing lately isn’t the one I grew up in, not the one I want my kids to grow up in. I want our community to go back to being respectful of people’s opinions no matter what side of the aisle they’re on. I want to feel safe as my kids walk to the playground,” said Guerra.

Rella asserted her professional expertise and community involvement, highlighting her work assisting immigrants obtain legal status. She also asserted her political independence.

“I will always work with the rest of city council, with the state, with the county to do what’s best for you, the residents of Saratoga, and not anyone else. I’m on the only candidate with experience in contracts, insurance, real property assessment, and working in and managing a civil service department,” said Rella.

Each of the three candidates discussed their ideas for “modernizing” the Accounts department, and each has said they would not pursue a reassessment of city properties.

The candidates diverged on their approach to a civilian police review board, a hot topic of conversation in the Spa City. The current council has agreed to it in principle, but continues to debate the best approach, following a 50-point set of recommendations handed up by the city’s Police Reform Task Force in the spring.

Guerra believes a CRB would not bring “common ground” between police and civilians and referred broadly to the requests of the Task Force and other advocates.

“I don’t believe that we need a CRB. I think the amount of money that it’s going to cost for the type of CRB that they are looking for is not worth it,” said Guerra.

Rella said she supports the CRB and all 50 recommendations by the Task Force.

“I would support that. With my legal background, this is legislation, this is…what I know. And so I would want to make sure there was enough protections in there for the community and the city,” said Rella.

Moran also said he supports the recommendations by the Task Force, and said he did not fully support a recent draft ordinance to establish a framework for a CRB brought forward by Public Safety Commissioner and mayoral candidate Robin Dalton.

“What is being currently being talked about by the city council is not what was put forward by the city Task Force, and quite simply, it’s a vehicle to bring trust back to this community,” said Moran.