For Saratoga Springs, 2013 was a year of transitions. It was an election year featuring high-profile political campaigns, a controversial ballot initiative, and plenty of new faces getting in place for 2014.
On January 1st, 2013, former Saratoga County Clerk Republican Kathy Marchione left her position of more than 15 years to become state Senator for the 43rd District, a seat long held by Roy MacDonald. In February, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Democrat Peter Martin to the clerk’s office.
In November, Saratoga Springs residents elected Martin to become their new supervisor, along with incumbent supervisor Matthew Vietch, a Republican.
"Matt and I work very well together, and I think that together we will represent Saratoga Springs very well," said Martin.
City residents also elected a new mayor. After Republican Scott Johnson announced he would not run for a fourth term, his deputy, Republican Shauna Sutton, and Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, a Democrat, faced off, with Yepsen eking out a narrow victory in November.
"I'm just very exciting in pulling people in from all different neighborhoods and walks of life, working with the top CEO's of companies and working with GlobalFoundries to create more of a partnership there, creating more of an entrepreneurial hub for our next phase of business leaders in Saratoga Springs," said Yepsen.
One of Yepsen’s first tasks, even before taking office, was to establish a Code Blue program in Saratoga Springs with community leaders to open the doors of homeless shelters to all in need on the coldest of nights, following the death Nancy Pitts, who died outside the Saratoga Senior Center in December.
The four other Saratoga Springs City Commissioners will retain their positions, and on January first, the city council and supervisors will be sworn-in.
Yepsen’s opponent, Sutton, meanwhile will serve as a Deputy County Clerk, under Clerk-elect and Halfmoon town board member Craig Hayner.
City and county officials are also considering New York’s new casino gambling law. While the ballot proposal passed statewide, Saratoga Springs and county residents rejected it.
A group called SAVE Saratoga, formed initially online in opposition to expanding gambling in Saratoga Springs before election day, has grown into an organized campaign against the Saratoga Casino and Raceway’s intent to bid for an upstate casino license.
Outside a casino forum at the Saratoga Springs City Center attended by more than 1,000 city residents, SAVE Saratoga showed its strength by passing out boxes of red t-shirts that read "CasiNO!".
Outside the same forum, a group of casino supporters from the organization Destination Saratoga loaded off buses.
Saratoga County residents also chose Michael Zurlo as their first new sheriff in more than four decades, to replace the retiring James Bowen. The race garnered attention, especially during the Republican primary season, when Zurlo squared off against challenger Jeff Gildersleeve.
The race featured a lawsuit, a criminal complaint over missing lawn signs, and a seeming divide among Republicans with the establishment-backed Zurlo and the grassroots and gun-rights focused campaign of Gildersleeve.
Zurlo said his positive attitude carried him to victory.
"To me it was staying positive, which I did, and continued right through up to November 5th," said Zurlo.
All are now preparing for 2014.