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Opinion Pieces

“Opinion Pieces are provided for your information and enjoyment. This content does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the SSDC or its members.”

The SSDC is proud to support the following Democratic candidates for State and National office, to represent the people of Saratoga Springs:

Paul D. Tonko – for the U.S. House of Representatives, 20th District
Carrie Woerner – for NYS Assembly, 113th District
Aaron Gladd – for NYS Senate, 43rd District (including most of Saratoga Springs)
Michelle Ostrelich – for NYS Senate, 49th District (including 4 election districts—7, 19, 20 & 21— at the Northwest corner of Saratoga Springs).

In the crucial November 6, 2018 election, we see an opportunity to return our City’s Congressman Paul Tonko to Washington and send Assembly member Carrie Woerner to Albany for her third term. Further, we can deliver control of the NYS Senate to the Democratic Party by electing two highly-qualified progressive candidates who embrace the principles we stand for.


Paul D. Tonko. Our Congressman is highly visible and accessible within the District, participating in many community events. The highest-ranking Democrat on the Energy and the Environment Subcommittee, he can influence policy in these vital subject areas. Recent stands he’s taken include: strengthening cyber-security and protecting the power grid;  defense of Medicare and Social Security; expanding access to treatment for opioid dependence; funding Planned Parenthood; support for net neutrality; preserving the Affordable Care Act’s pre-existing condition protection; and respect for objective, science-based policy decisions. We are lucky to be represented by one of the hardest-working and most respected members of Congress. VOLUNTEER/DONATE HERE:


Carrie Woerner. As part of the Democratic Majority in the Assembly, Carrie is well- placed to secure favorable legislation and grant money and move up in rank and influence as she gains seniority. Carrie constantly makes herself available at gatherings throughout the District. She’s enacted 22 bills and secured almost 100 grants worth over $7.5 million for local law enforcement, drug treatment, libraries, veterans’ services, infrastructure, local governments, emergency medical services, and agricultural education. Her focus is on growing an economy here that’s based on innovation and entrepreneurship, including sustainable farms; good high-tech jobs and careers; start-up ventures; and educating young people with skills they need to succeed. VOLUNTEER/DONATE HERE:


Aaron Gladd. A great opportunity presents itself to elect this highly-qualified progressive candidate. Aaron proved his mettle as a U.S. Army platoon leader in Eastern Afghanistan, neutralizing IEDs and training over 400 fellow soldiers. Aaron’s leadership experience combines with expertise in NYS government, where he served as Deputy Director of Policy (2015-2018) in the Governor’s office. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, winning the coveted role of NYS Senate Fellow. His policy goals are shaped by growing up in poverty: “Our working and middle class families are struggling to get ahead, New Yorkers need a fighter who has the passion to serve and the character to get it done.” VOLUNTEER/DONATE HERE:


Michelle Ostrelich. Widespread community support already boosts Michelle, an attorney living in Niskayuna, She has held community leadership roles as board president of a local community center, Parent-Teacher Organization co-president and trustee for a local hospital foundation, and she serves on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Michelle was strongly affected by attending Women’s Marches in 2017-18 to become an agent for change by running for public office. Her policy goals are to grow our middle class, guarantee health care for all and create a future where all children are secure and can succeed: “We need to embrace families and deliver opportunity regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, gender identity or sexual orientation.” VOLUNTEER/DONATE HERE:





SSDC Honors Past Chairman Charley Brown

At the SSDC annual holiday party, members honored recently retired Chairman, Charley Brown.  The SSDC issued the following proclamation:

December 10, 2017

We choose this Holiday Party celebration to honor the best gift an organization could ever hope to be given – a great leader. Our City’s Democratic Committee stands strong and successful today, largely through the wise leadership of Charley Brown.

Six years ago, Charley took the Chair of a Committee that had much potential to grow its numbers and increase its effectiveness. With help and support from then-members, Charley undertook the challenge. He kept constant look-out to recruit and mentor potential new members; he fostered development of the Ramp-Up program to orient and train new people; he consulted and listened to all; and he helped the group move beyond painful issues lingering from things in the Committee’s past.

Today, the Committee functions at full power, all seats occupied and willing volunteers stepping forward to fill any vacancies. A system of standing Subcommittees and Ad Hoc groups take their charges seriously and get the job done. The resulting Democratic electoral victories speak for themselves.

This does not happen to an organization by chance. The health of this Committee today is a testament to Charley’s political skill and the tireless, selfless work he has done to bring this outcome about. Among the many gifts he shares with us –

  • Wisdom
  • Generosity
  • Toughness

Charley came to this job with significant progressive credentials, a history of activism and a consistently principled outlook that is so rare to find in our fellow beings. He executed his Chair-ship, sometimes with reckless disregard for his own wellbeing, out of love and conviction for the mission we pursue. At no time has the Nation needed such talent more – and Charley leaves the Chair, having given our City a body well equipped and dedicated to protect our Democracy.

With grateful thanks and every best wish for the future –

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee


Proud to be Democrats, we are indeed “Stronger Together.”

The SSDC mission is to help elect  principled, effective people so their judgment and their energy can go to work, solving our greatest problems—climate change, persistent inequality, international stability and an economy that thrives by investing in its people

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee (“SSDC”)

publishes this website to provide you with information about candidates, issues and events affecting our city--plus current voting procedures. The tabs above provide additional information about:

  • Campaigns: Candidates and issues in upcoming elections
  • Media & Letters: Useful articles and opinions
  • Voter resources: Election Day, where to vote, how to contact your elected officials, helpful links for voters
  • Calendar: Upcoming meetings and events
  • About: Our mission and Party Platform.

What we stand for — Your SSDC exists to promote the principles of the Democratic Party, in the open and inclusive governance of Saratoga Springs. We work to maintain and continually improve well-being and quality of life for ALL City residents. 

Who we areIf you are an enrolled Democratic voter in Saratoga Springs, you are represented on the SSDC. Each of the City’s 25 Election Districts is represented by two SSDC members. We volunteer our time to work on your behalf. We want to know you and hear your views. Contact Us

If you would like to view your Electoral District, please visit the Voter Resources page.

Endorsements for City office 2017

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates to run for City office in 2017:

                City Court Judge -- Francine Vero

                Mayor -- Meg Kelly

                Commissioner of Finance -- Michele Madigan

                Commissioner of Public Safety -- Peter Martin

                Commissioner of Accounts -- John Franck

                County Supervisors -- Pat Friesen, Tara N. Gaston

“I am pleased we can present such a qualified slate of Democratic candidates to City voters,” said SSDC Chair Charles Brown. “We are confident our slate gives people a clear choice to vote for Democratic values in a year when voters’ decisions will determine the nature of our community’s future.”

Judge Francine Vero. The first woman ever to serve as Saratoga Springs City Judge, she presides over a variety of civil and criminal cases and the specialized Domestic Violence Compliance Court. Prior to becoming a judge, she was senior counsel with Harris Beach PLLC, one of the country’s top law firms.

Meg Kelly. Currently serving as the City’s Deputy Mayor, Meg has demonstrated her ability to achieve progress on City priorities, such as The Greenbelt Trail, Open Space, Complete Streets, and the Recreation Master Plan. Prior to her current post, Meg was an LPGA golf professional, Founder/CEO of the Saratoga Children’s Theatre and a small business owner.

Michele Madigan. She seeks her fourth term leading the city's Finance department. She has prepared annual City budgets with stable property taxes since 2013; refinanced City debt to save $2.3 million; and led the 2.5 megawatt Spa Solar Park project to provide up to 40% of the City’s power. An experienced library professional, Michele holds a MLS degree in Library and Information Science.

Peter Martin. He has served two terms as County Supervisor and now seeks to become Commissioner of Public Safety. An attorney and a former Saratoga County Clerk, Peter has served on the boards many non-profits both nationally (the Arthritis Foundation) and locally (Caffe Lena, Lakes to Locks Passage).

John Franck. A Certified Public Accountant, John  seeks a seventh term leading the Accounts Department, where he has earned awards for his records-management practices; beefed up the City’s risk-management safeguards; and brought property-tax disputes (grievances) down to the lowest number in 15 years.

Pat Friesen. A Leadership Saratoga program graduate with a MS degree in Guidance and Counseling, Pat has led local campaign efforts for Kirsten Gillibrand and the 2012 Campaign to Re-Elect President Obama. She has served on numerous boards and committees with leadership roles including SPAC, Saratoga Film Forum, Saratoga Arts Fest, Yaddo and Opera Saratoga.

Tara N. Gaston. An attorney and spouse of a veteran, Tara has focused on rights advocacy, military law, and security. She has served on the boards of several national non-profits, and works with the Capital District Women’s Bar Association LGBT Committee, Emerge America, and various local organizations.


Springs Democratic Committee     Position Paper

Our City’s Comprehensive Plan – It’s Everyone’s Future


Support and suggestions for the review process

An updated Comprehensive Plan is essential for the City to continue guiding future growth and development in ways that contribute to our residents’ long-term well-being and quality-of-life (See Appendix II, Note 1). The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee is on record supporting appointment of a balanced, citizen-led committee to take charge of this year’s review process:

“Saratoga Springs’ current Comprehensive Plan is dated July 17, 2001. . . .The past dozen years have brought breathtaking changes to our Cityscape as well as technology, the economy, the surrounding area and a host of other factors relevant to the City’s future. Other changes, like the advent of full-fledged casinos, loom in the near future.” (SSDC statement, March 2013)

This statement summarizes the input of the SSDC about the review process and the vision we advocate for its ultimate outcome.

We want to publicly thank the people involved:
·∙ the volunteer-citizens who agreed to share their expertise and take charge of the Committee’s ultimate work product;;
·∙ the City Council, who showed faith in these individuals by choosing them and providing resources to get the job done;;
·∙ the City employees whose practical knowledge of Saratoga Springs will keep the process grounded;; and
·∙ the professional consultants selected to support this work with their experience, knowledge-base and wider perspective.

We especially commend the Committee’s efforts to promote widespread public involvement—the public meetings, Open House event and web site that lets busy citizens contribute ideas and state their concerns. 



Standard & Poor’s Says Saratoga Springs is AA+ Again!

Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan is pleased to report that Standard & Poor’s Rating Services (S&P) awarded the City a “AA+” for 2016 and affirmed its “AA+” rating on the City’s outstanding bonds.  An exceptional rating for a municipality, this is the fifth consecutive year that the City has received AA+, all during Madigan’s tenure as Commissioner of Finance.  Likewise, S&P retained the City’s “stable outlook”, as well as its Financial Management Practice Assessment of “good”.  

S&P describes the City as a “commercial and industrial center for the surrounding areas”.  In the course of its analysis of the City, S&P considered the following qualities:

  • Very strong economy;
  • Strong management conditions, with "good" financial policies and practices;
  • Strong budgetary performance, with operating surpluses in the general fund and at the total governmental fund level in fiscal 2015;
  • Very strong budgetary flexibility;
  • Very strong liquidity, as well as strong access to external liquidity;
  • Strong institutional framework.


S&P states “The city has exhibited strong budgetary performance with positive operating result in each of the last six fiscal years. … Given the city's strong historical results, and management's expectations for fiscal 2016, we expect the city's budgetary performance to remain strong. …Saratoga Springs’ budgetary flexibility is very strong, in our view. … the sewer fund has fully paid back its loan [to the general fund] and…the water fund will complete paying back its loan in fiscal 2016. … The city has consistently had very strong liquidity and we do not expect a change to these ratios.” 

S&P expressed faith in the City’s management, stating “we believe management will continue to make the necessary budget adjustments to maintain balanced operations.  As such, we do not anticipate changing the rating during the two-year outlook horizon.”  It also anticipated raising the bond rate if the City continues to maintain its strong budgetary performance (and economic indicators increase) while mitigating the effects of fixed costs associated with long term liabilities (such as pension and other postemployment benefits (OPEB).

Commissioner Madigan states: “The City and its taxpayers are benefiting from the excellent policies, practices, budgeting and fiscal management of my administration.  I will continue to lead with the conservative fiscal practices and sustainable City budgeting that protects the City’s AA+ rating.  It is critical to all departments and our constituents as we strive to improve City infrastructure, maintain beautiful historic buildings, provide trails, recreation and open space, and keep the City safe.  I am very proud of this outstanding bond rating and pleased to bring it home to the City of Saratoga Springs.