September 16, 2011
My Fellow Saratogians,
Together, we’ve made real progress in the last four years. I’ve listened to you and acted on behalf of our community. As the re-election campaign proceeds, I look forward to seeing many of you and continuing our discussions and mutual goal of doing what’s best for all of us. As your full time Mayor, it’s been an honor to serve a community as great as ours.
I’m proud to have kept my campaign promises. City Hall certainly has a better public face, more civility, respect and sense of professionalism than when I took office. I’ve often said that solutions can’t be reached without these values, and a willingness to be genuine to build consensus.
I’m also proud to accept the campaign endorsements from the Republican, Independence and Conservative parties. But effective City government isn’t about party affiliation, especially at this local level. The issues facing our City, and the solutions available, affect each and every one of us, regardless of your party, and should be above party politics. I’ll continue to reach across party lines to just simply do the right thing.
In the face of the Great Recession and ongoing economic uncertainty, we must continue to be fiscally conservative in how we spend your tax dollars. Many Saratogians have talked with me about what they want, what they can and can’t afford, and how they now just can’t afford a tax and spend mentality. I never forget my roots and how many in Saratoga struggle everyday to make ends meet. I understand the “new” economic reality, actually borrowed from our past and prior generations, that you can’t spend what you can’t afford.
As your Mayor, we’ve reigned in spending, while still providing quality services and comprehensive long-term planning. Capital budgets have been reduced from $13 million when I first took office, in 2008, to less than $2 million in 2011. We recently passed, by unanimous vote, a six year capital program that was developed by our Capital Program Committee, which I chair, following the most comprehensive and substantiated process ever used in City Hall. One of the most exciting projects planned for next year is the result of the first public/private partnership created to finally provide a solution, a parking deck, to satisfy the decades old need for more downtown parking. The parking deck is not just an expense item, it’s economic development that will attract more people downtown to generate more revenue for our businesses and sales tax to the City. It’s an example of how to generate revenue to offset the increasing cost of government. Again, it’s a bipartisan effort of being creative in providing more while still being cost effective.
It’s also no secret that the every City today must find ways to control the biggest cost: labor. I’m proud to have held the line on escalating labor costs in negotiating new union contracts. Historically, we have achieved the most affordable, but fair, contracts. We also will save money on skyrocketing health insurance with the conversion I initiated to consolidate coverage into one company, still providing security to our workers while providing City savings on future increases. Again, we can still provide services and be fair, but must do so in more efficient and economical ways than in the past.
We also took charge of the languishing need for a recreation center, first determined to be needed back in 1994. When I took office, the project was fully funded, with your tax dollars, but was without plans, design and best site location to maximize use by all residents. We moved the project forward and, today, can be proud of a facility that has improved the quality of life of our youth, families and seniors. We now have a Rec Center that's a success and affordable, and continues to generate revenue for the City and local businesses from the tournaments and other everyday use by so many of us.
As we plan for the future, it’s important to have consistency in leadership. In the face of economic uncertainty, this certainly isn’t the time for our City to elect anyone that doesn’t have a proven track record, that's unfamiliar and without perspective of our history and all the issues facing us, and who hasn’t worked to earn the public trust. I’ll continue to reach out and be accessible to every part of our community, to best represent all Saratogians.
Please help me, with your vote on Election Day November 8th, to build on the successes of these last four years as your Mayor. Thank you.