During a recent panel discussion devoted to the proposed change to the Saratoga Springs City Charter, panelist Jane Weihe, representing the group SUCCESS, which has consistently advocated for keeping the present commission form of government, told a story about a friend who needed leaves picked up.
According to Jane, her friend called the Department of Public Works and was told that the leaves would not be picked up until the following week due to roads being paved. Jane then commented, “Good luck getting that fast and clear an answer from a city manager who is hired and works for a council that’s elected for all four years.”
Scare tactics have been a prominent part of SUCCESS’s attempts to undermine proposals to update government in Saratoga Springs from its present commission form. According to this group, citizens would lose control over city services if the city abandoned its governmental structure, which consists of a five-member City Council whose members function both as legislative representatives and as executives over their respective city departments.
Cities across the country have abandoned the commission form of government for good reason. Jane Weihe should know that leaves are being picked up in other cities and towns, the overwhelming majority of which do not operate under a commission form of government.
Services are being provided and employees are being hired without regard for one’s political party. Citizens run for city councils and can represent their neighbors without the conflicting burden of overseeing a department. Management of those municipalities is well-ccoordinated and logical.
Saratoga Springs can have efficient, democratic, transparent and responsive government, too. By voting yes for the proposed charter, our voters can finally bring about this important change for the better.
The writer is the commissioner of Public Safety.