Four months after a measure to bring in a new form of government was narrowly defeated by Saratoga Springs voters, civic leaders will once again explore changes to the city's charter. Matt Hunter has the story.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Newly elected Mayor Meg Kelly was among the 4,448 Saratogians who voted in favor of replacing the city's rarely-used commissioner form of government with the city manager style.
"I campaigned for charter reform,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I was campaigning very hard for the city manager [form of government] and it didn't win."
After a heated campaign, the measure failed by just 10 votes on November’s Election Day. Four months later, Kelly has appointed a 10-member commission to explore possible changes to the city's existing charter without upending the form of government all together.
"I'm doing what I told my constituents at the door, that we can improve this charter we're working under," said Kelly, who announced the new commission at last week’s city council meeting.
"Finally,” Richard Sellers said. “Fantastic.”
Sellers is a spokesperson for the group SUCCESS, which opposed doing away with the current charter in November. Instead, members advocated for slight changes to the document that serves as a guide for the city's government.
"The charter has worked very well for this city, but after 17 years, it does need updating," Sellers said.
While she will not serve herself, Kelly appointed the other four members of the city council, all five deputy commissioners and the city attorney to serve on the commission.
"We will have public comment and we will have public input, but those are the people that live it every day and they know where the deficiencies are," Kelly said.
"There's not a single citizen on the 10-person panel, and that's really unusual," said Bob Turner, a political science professor.
Turner chaired the previous charter review commission that recommended the city manager form of government. He believes the lack of citizen representation is the biggest drawback of Kelly's new commission.
"From the two-year process that we had, I think one of the real strengths was that we had a lot of different perspectives, a lot of different views," he said.
Any changes the new group recommends after its study will appear on November's ballot.