The dog days of summer are usually a slow time in local politics, but not in Saratoga Springs. The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee is in need of new leadership after several members resigned over their objection to their party’s primary winner in the race for city finance commissioner.
In mid-July, after the votes were tallied in a contentious Democratic primary for Finance Commissioner in Saratoga Springs where newcomer Patty Morrison defeated incumbent Michele Madigan, five members who served on the city Democratic committee’s Executive Committee resigned.
On Thursday, 11 more announced they too would step down.
At a press conference in High Rock Park, two former Democratic Committee chairs explained why. Here’s past chair Charles Brown.
“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.
Immediate past chair Courtney DeLeonardis said the group resigning all supported Madigan in the run-up to the June primary.
“We had the choice of Patty or Michele during our endorsement proceedings and we supported Michele over Patty at that time,” said DeLeonardis.
The group contends they could not remain on the committee to support the primary winner in good faith.
Madigan is seeking a fifth term. Morrison serves on the Saratoga Springs City School District board of education.
While Morrison secured the Democratic line, Madigan has the Independence and Working Families Party lines on November’s ballot.
Brown said he and his fellow former committee members would not join any minor party.
“We’re all strong lifelong Democrats. We all plan to be Democrats…but we are Democrats that are independent of party.”
With three months to go before Election Day, the committee will have to elect a new chair and treasurer. Brown says the departing leadership team is leaving the organization with resources.
“We’ve left them with $10,000 that we have earned over the course of eight years, we’ve left them a foot manual, a ramp-up manual for procedures. We’ve left them with procedures for the sub-committees. All that work is intact and transferring friendly to the new group,” said Brown.
Responding to the resignations, Morrison emailed a statement to WAMC that reads in part:
"There are a number of citizens eagerly waiting to join the committee and work in accordance to the will of the voters we are elected to serve. It is not unusual for there to be a change when leadership and the will of the electorate are misaligned. Our City Democratic Committee will be stronger going forward.”
Reached for comment by WAMC, Saratoga County Democratic Committee Chair Todd Kerner also submitted a statement that reads:
“The Democratic Committee is like a family, we sometimes argue and disagree due to the passion we bring to public service. We want to thank those who are leaving for their hard work and dedication. We continue to move ahead with an excellent slate of candidates and look forward to the November elections.”
City Republicans have not endorsed a candidate for Finance Commissioner.
Brown said he was unsure of next steps for the former members, and would not say if any of the resigning committee members would run again for a committee position in the future. But he did have one suggestion at the conclusion of Thursday’s press conference.
“So now we go…we get to go…gin? Or something?”
Morrison's entire statement is posted below:
"There are a number of citizens eagerly waiting to join the committee and work in accordance to the will of the voters we are elected to serve. It is not unusual for there to be a change when leadership and the will of the electorate are misaligned. Our City Democratic Committee will be stronger going forward.
Saratoga Springs citizens have spoken and the message is clear -- from what was said at the doors and most importantly at the ballot box in the recent election -- we are not happy with the current Commissioner of Finance, poor decisions at the Council table and we ultimately voted for change. People have grave concerns about the pace of development and sustaining our quality of life. I’m turning my attention to ensure a prudent fiscal long-term plan for our city by applying my 25-years of business experience and working hard for the business owners and tax-payers who make this City so successful. They can count on me to listen, represent all voters and be a catalyst for success. I'm honored to have the support of the people."
A request for comment emailed to Madigan's campaign account was not returned Friday in time for broadcast.