Saratoga Springs Republican Kenneth Ivins did not receive the endorsement of his party to run for finance commissioner, so he went door-to-door and collected hundreds of signatures in an attempt to obtain the party’s line on the November ballot.
Ivins announced Tuesday near High Rock Park that he would challenge incumbent Democrat Michele Madigan for finance commissioner without the support of the city’s Republican Committee. The committee this year also declined to endorse a senior account manager named Joseph Di Geso to run against Madigan. Ivins announcement means Accounts Commissioner John Franck, a Democrat, will be the only City Council member running unopposed in 2015. Neither of the two city supervisors face opposition.
Ivins, 58, manages two insurance agencies. He served as city finance commissioner for four years until 2012, and on the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board for more than two years. He lost a race for city supervisor in 2013. Ivins said he gathered 440 signatures from voters when he needed a minimum of 309. If the signatures survive any challenges made, Ivins will appear on the Republican and Reform party lines.
“If the committee had backed a Republican, I would not have come forward,” Ivins said Wednesday.Here’s his speech from Tuesday, followed by Madigan’s response:
“I thought my political life was going to be quiet, obviously that is not the case.
I was approached by a large number of people to step up and run for commissioner of finance again. It was a wide range of conservatives, Republicans, independents and even Democrats who were not happy with the job that the current commissioner was doing.
I thought long and hard before deciding to move forward. What made me decide to take that leap?
I, too, am also profoundly unhappy with job the current commissioner of finance has been doing. Every week I hear new stories of her unprofessionalism and petty infighting with fellow Council members. I continue to see her busy herself with items that have traditionally fallen outside of the finance department’s purview. We need a finance commissioner who fervently keeps his eyes on the City’s finances at all times.
This last year, we the public, have read about significant amounts of money either being left on the table or simply being excused. The question on everyone’s lips when reading these articles is, “Where is our finance commissioner’s objections?”
During my campaign, I want to focus on my vision for this great city. I want a city where we do not have to choose between the services we want and what we can afford.
During my first term the economy took a tough turn. We lost VLT revenues, sales tax was down and the amount of taxable property was flat. So I had to spend all my time focused on keeping the city financially sound.
It was tough, and I got bruised up a bit, but I was and am proud to say that when I left office the city was on solid financial ground. Because of the prudent and cautious work done then and the eventual positive turn of the economy the city is in much better shape today.
If elected, I now have the opportunity to focus on the long term quality of life issues facing our city. The city is in a great position to take advantage of opportunities that will create long term recurring revenues.
One such project that will be a long term impact is located on the very site we are meeting at today. The City Center has made Saratoga Springs the year round place to be, not just the August place to be. They have needed additional parking for many years and with the recent expansion the demand is even greater. The sooner we can get something built the better.
The real question is, do we build a single use parking facility or do we take the most valuable piece of developable property in the city and create something with multiple uses, like retail, office space, maybe residential. By creating this extension of our downtown we can generate additional revenues like sales tax and property tax. We must continue to be prudent and strategic in our long term planning in order to stay ahead.
The city has looked at this before and the timing was not right. I think it is time to look at this idea again. On tonight’s city council’s agenda is an item to put out an RFP for a multi-use facility. I strongly urge the council to get this RFP out as soon as possible so we can see what options are available and get the parking that the city center needs as quickly as possible.
We also need to take a closer look at projects like Saratoga National and any other projects that bring in more revenues to the community and city budget without costing more in services. We have been very lucky to receive the VLT revenues but uncertain times are ahead of us and although we would like to think optimistically we must act cautiously.
The key is we have a great quality of life. From good jobs, recreational activities, the arts, entertainment, social gatherings and much more, we have it all. We now need to enhance our community so everyone can afford to take advantage of it now and well into the future.
After this event I am having a fund raiser at the West Side Bar and Grill on Congress Street. I invite you all to continue your support and stop by. Any donation will be greatly appreciated.
I thank each and every one of you coming out today. Our city is at a great place in its history. Together we can take it to a place that we do not have to choose between the services we want and need and the services we can afford.
Have a great day.”
Here is Commissioner Madigan’s response emailed to me on Wednesday:
“I stand by my record as finance commissioner, dramatically improving the city’s budgeting, restoring services that were needlessly cut by Mr. Ivins and I’ve done so without raising taxes. It’s difficult to take Mr. Ivins seriously as a candidate for this office when he was not even endorsed by the city republican committee, despite his repeated attempts to obtain their endorsement. I would remind the voters that Mr. Ivins’ tenure was marked by huge tax increases, huge spending cuts, and needless layoffs while city surpluses were increasing. This was driven by his inability to construct a budget and his refusal to listen to the professionals in the Finance Department, especially the Director of Finance. He consistently understated revenues and overstated expenses while leaving large unneeded items in some Departmental budgets and ignoring critical needs of other Departments. Whether or not voters like me personally, there is no doubt that the City’s finances will once again be in peril if Mr. Ivins were to be successful in his quest to unseat me. Competence is really the only thing that matters in this election, and there is no doubt that on that front I am the far superior candidate.
I am working hard to protect the interests of the taxpayers of Saratoga Springs to be best of my ability, and I expect all council members to do the same and to come to council meetings prepared to carry on with city business. When some of my colleagues on the council come to meetings unprepared, make false or misleading statements, take this job less seriously than they should, or engage in time wasting political grand standing I push back. I was not elected to play nice with those colleagues who force me put up with such nonsense, I was elected to perform a complicated job at a professional level, and thereby protect the financial interests of the city and all its stakeholders. I expect the same level of seriousness and commitment from all of my fellow council members. Sometimes we will disagree on the best course of action for the city, but we should be able to put such differences aside. We should not, however, tolerate rudeness, belittling, falsehoods, and incompetence. And I will not do so.”
[“source – blog.timesunion.com”]