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2022 will bring new dynamic to Saratoga Springs city hall

Saratoga Springs City Hall (file photo)
Lucas Willard

The new year will bring a new dynamic to the Saratoga Springs City Council, with four recently-elected Democrats entering City Hall.

The next Saratoga Springs city council will be led by Democratic Mayor-elect Ron Kim.

Kim, a former city Public Safety Commissioner, along with the four other city commissioners, will be sworn-in individually on New Year’s Day.

In a way, it’s in line with how Kim is predicting how his 2022 agenda will unfold.

“The pandemic may impact some of our timing on some of the things we do and when we do it,” said Kim.

A top priority for Kim and the three other Democrats elected to the city council is an investigation into a 2014 tragedy that energized racial justice advocates in the post-Floyd era.

“The first meeting, we’re going to be seeking an independent investigation of the Darryl Mount death,” said Kim.

Mount, a biracial man, died months after a police foot chase in August 2013. The city has never completed an impartial investigation into potential police misconduct as it defends itself in court from a lawsuit from Mount’s family.

The city’s incoming Public Safety Commissioner, Democrat Jim Montagnino, is preparing to release his own report into the events surrounding Mount’s death, but was unavailable for comment Friday as he recovers from illness.

Kim also wants to ensure continuing cooperation with the State Attorney General’s Office as it probes the city’s actions regarding its arrests of Black Lives Matter demonstrators and other potential misuses of police power.

“…Make sure that whatever the Attorney General needs to conduct that investigation has been provided,” said Kim.

The 2022 city budget includes funding for the implementation of a civilian review board, a key recommendation from the city’s Police Reform Task Force. Incoming Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, a fellow Democrat, says she will be focused on implementing all recommendations handed up by the Task Force last spring.

“One of the things that I will do is sit with our budget director and come up with a three-year plan so we can set aside money to do some of these things, and make sure that we have implementation of all 50 points by the police reform task force,” said Sanghvi.

Sanghvi says she also wants to find ways to bring new revenues into the city through the creative economy.

“So I’m meeting with Saratoga Arts and several other local arts and cultural organizations to figure out how we can do things in the new year that will bring in more arts,” said Sanghvi.

With the future of the pandemic uncertain, incoming Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran says he wants to continue the city’s efforts to support the hospitality and tourism industry. One idea: shut down streets to vehicle traffic during certain times of the day and year to attract more people into the city.

“We’ve driven through town in the summertime, you see the crowded sidewalks, not a lot of people wearing masks, that’s a turnoff to a lot of people. If we have the ability to stay apart from each other to do and respect that social distancing requirement, I think that’s going to help a lot of folks re-enter the economy,” said Moran.

With a surging real estate market, Moran also said he wants to focus on housing and development to support people of all backgrounds and incomes.

“We have enough million-dollar condos. We need places for normal people to live and work,” said Moran.

Kim, Montagnino, Sanghvi, and Moran will also be joined on the council by longtime Republican Commissioner of Public Works Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. The city’s two county supervisors, Republican Matt Veitch and Democrat Tara Gaston, will also continue to serve in their roles.