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The Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission unanimous agreed that it wants a dynamic mayor elected by voters to represent the city rather than a  ceremonial mayor.

At its Jan. 24 meeting, the commission voted 14-0 in favor of a council/manager form of government. Under traditional council/manager form, the mayor is selected by the council and has the same powers as other council members and plays more of a ceremonial role.  However, the commission felt that Saratoga Springs needed a mayor who could provide dynamic leadership and rejected the weak mayor model.

Commission Chair Bob Turner, who is also an associate professor of political science at Skidmore College, pointed out that very few city governments are a pure strong mayor or council/manager model.

“The vast majority of cities have a hybrid form that combine the political leadership and coalition building of the strong mayor model with the professional expertise and administrative efficiencies of a city manager or administrator,” said Turner.

The commission did not decide whether the mayor should be full time or not.
The commission also reviewed the research of New York’s constitutional scholar and SUNY Professor Gerald Benjamin on the appointment and removal of city managers.  The commission supported having the city council be able to appoint and remove the city manager.

The commission also supported having clear qualifications in the charter for the manager/administrator, covering the education and experience of the city manager in the charter.

The commission is expected to finish the draft of the revised charter by the middle of February.  Voters will have a vote in a charter referendum on May 30.

More information is available at Saratogacharter.com.  Comments on the charter can be sent via email to saratogaspringscharter@gmail.com.

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