November’s election will determine the make-up of the Saratoga Springs City Council. WAMC’s Lucas Willard reports on the race for finance commissioner, a rematch of the spring’s Democratic primary.
Democratic City Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan is running for a fifth two-year term. She faces a challenge from newcomer Patty Morrison.
But it will be Morrison on the top line of the ballot, after narrowly defeating Madigan for the Democratic nomination. Madigan is running on three lines: the Independence Party, the Working Families Party, and the newly formed SAM party.
The general election campaign began with a shakeup among the city’s Democratic committee, after leaders walked out to support Madigan as a third-party candidate following Morrison’s primary upset. Here’s a former Democratic committee chair, Charles Brown, speaking about Morrison at a summer press conference.
“We are taking this serious action to express our serious concerns about the risk she poses to the sound workings of our city council and to the management of our city finances,” said Brown.
Since then, the city Democratic committee has gained new leadership and is back up to full force, according to current chair Sarah Burger.
“As of this week we have representatives for all districts. We are continuing to work in support of all of our endorsed candidates,” said Burger.
Including Morrison. She believes Democrats in the city will support Morrison for the second time.
“The Democratic Party and our committee supported the choice of the voters and endorsed the primary winner, Patty Morrison,” said Burger.
Madigan, with the former Democratic committee members’ backing, is running on her eight years in City Hall. She thinks her message will continue to resonate with voters.
“I absolutely think my message carries over the noise. I’ve hit thousands of doors myself, and this message of ‘one Saratoga,’ city before party, running an independent candidate, is resonating very well. As a matter of fact, a lot of people say, ‘That’s exactly what I want to see today,’” said Madigan.
Madigan said she’s worked to effectively support each city department during her tenure as Finance Commissioner, regardless of party affiliation.
As each commissioner also holds a seat on the Saratoga Springs city council under the city’s unique form of government, Madigan outlined some of her legislative concerns.
“There’s Fire-EMS for the Eastern Plateau, we have to complete the renovations on city hall, the Loughberry Lake dam is under a mandate for an update by the state. But then there are things that I’m working on specifically – IT reports into the finance department, cybersecurity is a huge issue…”
Morrison said she’s running on quality-of-life issues. She says voters she talks to feel left out of the political process.
“There’s a concern over all the development. People are hungry for some controlled growth,” said Morrison.
Morrison says she wants to focus on recouping $2 million in taxes owed to the city. Legislatively, she turns toward issues including infrastructure, planning, and housing for all income levels in the rapidly developing city.
“I want to focus on inclusionary zoning, open space, championing efforts to improve and maintain our transportation throughout the city…”
In June’s primary, Morrison edged Madigan by 32 votes out of more than 1,500 cast after absentee ballots were tallied in July.