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Saratoga Springs city council forms committee to review DPW candidates

Saratoga Springs City Hall (file photo)
Lucas Willard
Saratoga Springs City Hall (file photo)

The Saratoga Springs city council has outlined its process for appointing a temporary Department of Public Works Commissioner following the death of Anthony “Skip” Scirocco earlier this month.

“Skip” Scirocco died after battling cancer on April 6th.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Democratic Mayor Ron Kim read a resolution honoring the Republican leader who served for more than two decades combined on the county Board of Supervisors and in Saratoga Springs city hall.

“In person he was as kind and generous man who loved his family, his friends, and his community,” read Kim. “His experience in city government earned him appreciation from his department’s employees, from his fellow councilmembers, and from the public. His legacy to our city is vast and his accomplishments will continued to be enjoyed and appreciated for many decades to come.”

Following another resolution in which the city council voted to rename city hall’s third floor music hall in Scirocco’s honor, Kim announced a resolution that would establish a committee to review candidates seeking to temporarily fill Scirocco’s position on the council and as head of the Public Works Department.

“The mayor and the commissioners of finance, public safety, and accounts, shall each appoint one member. The city council shall appoint the fifth member, the chair, and the chair shall have the administrative powers to call, schedule, organize and conduct meetings; to request information from city staff; and to cause minutes to be taken and kept. Three: the committee shall be advisory only and shall have no authority to exercise any of the powers of city government. At the end of its review of all candidates deemed qualified, the committee shall make a recommendation to the council as to the person best qualified for the appointment. The council shall not be bound by the committee’s recommendation…”

Former Commissioner of Accounts John Franck was selected to chair the search committee. Members of the council, all Democrats, also made their own appointments to the committee.

Mayor Kim selected Alexus Brown, a young Saratoga BLM activist often seen at city council meetings. Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran named Kristen Dart, a former member of the city’s Police Reform Task Force. Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi selected Barb Thomas, the former president of the Saratoga County League of Women Voters. Public Safety Commissioner James Motagnino chose Tim Holmes, former Republican mayoral candidate.

Known to be interested in Scirocco’s position are his son, Anthony Scirocco Jr. – who is endorsed by the city’s Republican committee; Jason Golub, a former co-chair of the Police Reform Task Force; Bill McTygue, a former Director of Public Works who served under his brother Thomas, a former DPW Commissioner; and Ann Bullock, a familiar face in city Democratic politics who served on a previous city charter review committee.

The placeholder councilor would serve until a special election.

Citing concerns over potential disruptions from the public, Commissioner Moran suggested the interviews with the candidates take place without an audience, but viewable via livestream on the city website.

“While I understand the mayor’s desire to make this as open as possible, I think we also need to consider the fairness of the process to the individuals who are going to be participating, and as such I would hate for anybody to have their opportunity to speak with this committee flustered or overtaken by, perhaps, comments directed toward them or at them or about their candidacy,” said Moran.

The council also adopted a resolution to allow the mayor to present the agenda for the Public Works Department, continuing a practice in place over the last few months while Scirocco was ill.

Mayor Kim said he hoped to have an interim commissioner in place by the next city council meeting in May.

City Attorney Tony Izzo, newly named to his role after serving as acting city attorney over the last two months, explained why the Deputy Commissioner cannot present a city council agenda on behalf of the department.

“The deputy, basically, derives any authority from the commissioner or mayor who appoints him or her. When there’s a vacancy other than by expiration of term, there’s maybe some question as to exactly what authority the deputy has. This resolution is intended to resolve any discrepancies and make things clearer, and the council has the authority, I believe, to enact such a resolution so that there’s no question about exactly who has what authority to do what,” said Izzo.

The city council also adopted a resolution asking State Senator Daphne Jordan and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner to introduce state legislation to remove a residency requirement for the city attorney in Saratoga Springs. Mayor Kim had received some criticism for nominating a candidate who lived outside of city limits. Kim said the residency requirement has “significantly restricted” the number of qualified candidates for the city attorney position.

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