Democrat Meg Kelly wins mayoral election over Mark Baker
Updated 12:49 am, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Saratoga Springs

The city’s future path right now is too close to call.

With all districts reporting, the “yes” votes to charter change were ahead of the “no” votes, 4,202 to 4,154 Tuesday night. Chair of the Charter Review Commission Bob Turner said the city will likely have to turn to the nearly 500 absentee ballots to see if the proposed charter will change from a commission form of government to one run by a city manager and an enlarged city council of average citizens.

“This is agonizing,” Turner said.

While results were murky for the charter, Democrat Meg Kelly defeated Republican Mark Baker for mayor with a 4,630 to 3,911 lead.

“I’m feeling great,” Kelly said. “It’s a great win, a boots-on-the-ground, grassroots campaign. I look forward to moving the city forward. I’m super excited right now.”

Baker conceded, saying he wished Kelly well.

“I plan to be around to help her,” he said. “I’m disappointed, but I couldn’t be prouder of our campaign.”

Commissioner of public safety, however, was too close to call. Democrat Peter Martin was up slightly over Republican Don Braim, 4,217 to 4,021.

In the city’s five-way Board of Supervisor’s race, Republican incumbent Matthew Veitch maintained his place on the 23-member county board with 4,524 votes. Democrat Tara Gaston will be following him on the board with 3,823 votes. Republican John Safford had 3,522 votes with Democrat Patricia Friesen with 3,609 votes. Green party candidate Joseph Levy had 245 votes.

Democrat Francine Vero will remain on the bench as she overtook Republican Andrew Blumenberg for justice with a tally of 5,152 to 3,150.

All commissioners John Franck, Michele Madigan and Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, all of whom opposed charter change, will remain seated until 2020.

Polls were busy on Tuesday with a fairly high turnout. Complaints came in that Baker was handing out apples at the polls. Others complained that Skidmore College students doing exit polls were not standing 100 feet away from the polls.

If the charter is approved, nothing in city government will change until 2020. On Election Day 2019, voters will elect six city council candidates and a mayor. The three council members with the most votes will have four-year terms and the three candidates with the next highest vote counts will get two-year terms. Going forward, this will allow the city to stagger its council elections. The mayor and all council members will have four-year term eventually.

Before a new council is elected, either current Mayor Joanne Yepsen or Kelly will appoint a committee to interview and hire a city manager who will realize the vision of the council and the mayor.

In the days leading up to the charter vote, the fight got contentious. There was a lot of name calling and threats of lawsuits between advocates for charter change and its opponents.

Regardless, the results might be decided by the 709 absentee ballots issued by the Saratoga County Board of Elections. On Monday, a total of 482 were returned.

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