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Joanne Yepsen elected next mayor of Saratoga Springs

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
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Saratoga Springs Democratic mayoral candidate Joanne Yepsen is shown with her son Cole Yepsen, 17, at The Inn at Saratoga on Election Night. Yepsen was elected.
Saratoga Springs Democratic mayoral candidate Joanne Yepsen is shown with her son Cole Yepsen, 17, at The Inn at Saratoga on Election Night. Yepsen was elected.

— The Democrats are holding their majority on the Saratoga Springs City Council for another two years on the back of a mayoral win by Joanne Yepsen.

Yepsen, a four-term representative on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, was leading Republican Shauna Sutton, the three-term deputy mayor, by a vote of 4,120 to 3,778, according to nearly complete results at the Republican campaign headquarters at the Holiday Inn.

The other Democrats cruised to victory, with Accounts Commissioner John Franck winning a fifth term in his first race with an opponent since 2005 and Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan winning a second term without an opponent.

Republicans definitely held on to one seat, with Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco winning a fourth term.

It wasn’t clear, though, late Tuesday whether Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, a Democrat, would fend off a challenge from Republican Richard Wirth in a rematch of the 2011 election. After more than 75 percent of the votes were reported to the Saratoga County Board of Elections, Mathiesen had 3,403 votes and Wirth had 3,293 votes, a difference of half a percentage point.

Yepsen declined an opportunity to talk about her victory, but Madigan was optimistic about what it meant for the council. She was encouraged by the prospects of drafting a budget next year with another Democratic majority.

Madigan added that the next council, with Yepsen at the head, will probably focus on green projects and sustainable growth for the city. “These are things she has driven forward in the past as a supervisor,” Madigan said. “I would be pleased to move forward in that direction.”

The win by Yepsen makes her the third female mayor of the city, following in the footsteps of A.C. Riley and Valerie Keehn.

Sutton may have lost her bid for mayor, but she hinted in her concession speech about the possibility of teaming with departing Mayor Scott Johnson in the future. “It’s been quite a ride,” she said.

The Saratoga Springs Democrats also appeared to hold their ground on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, with the seat held by Yepsen going to Democrat Peter Martin, the acting Saratoga County clerk. The other seat went to incumbent Republican Matt Veitch, who is in line to be chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors as soon as 2015.

The loser in this three-way race was Republican Ken Ivins, who will likely continue to serve on the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority board.

Reflecting on the results in the city, Saratoga Springs Republican Committee Chairman David Harper conceded, “The numbers aren’t exactly what we wanted.”

It was good news for Scirocco, though, who is now undefeated against the McTygue family, as he held off Democrat Bill McTygue this year and unseated Tom McTygue, the long-running commissioner at the time, in 2007.

“I’m on such a high,” he said late Tuesday night. “This is great.”

Scirocco will again be serving as a member of the minority party on the council but told supporters that he will continue to be a productive councilman. “I’m going to work with these people,” he said.

A big factor in the council’s future dynamics will be determined by the winner of the public safety race, as the two candidates are severely divided on whether the city should build a third fire station on the East Side. Mathiesen has been a tireless advocate for building a new station, while Wirth has only advocated for a medical facility.

This race could be decided by outstanding ballots, with 584 absentee ballots sent to voters and more than 448 returned already. Republicans represented about 230 of the absentees returned and about 135 were from Democrats. For his part, Wirth was still hopeful Tuesday, saying, “It’s not over yet.”

It’s not yet clear how important each ballot line was for the mayoral candidates, but Yepsen did have the Independence line, which was worth 279 votes to incumbent Mayor Scott Johnson two years ago. Yepsen was endorsed by the local Independence Party and fended off a write-in primary from Sutton.

Both candidates had two additional lines, with Yepsen representing the Democratic and Working Families parties and Sutton representing the Republican and Conservative parties.

 
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