Democrat Patti Southworth will take over as Ballston town boss after defeating Republican candidate and longtime council member Harold Townley Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the polls.
Election Day brought a dramatic close to a fiercely fought race that took root years ago when Southworth emerged as a candidate new to the political arena calling for government ethics reform and better communications with town residents and business owners.
Final results showed Southworth received 1,483 votes versus Townley’s total of 1,297 votes.
It’s been a long three years, and I got where I am tonight with the help and diligence of many people ready for a change, said Southworth Tuesday at the Sherwood Lane home of a friend where a victory celebration was held. `The campaigning was tough, but the real work starts now.`
Clashes between the two parties are part of the town’s history, but they came to a head two years ago during a hotly contested debate about allowing big-box development, specifically a Wal-Mart Super Center, to enter the town. The town board came under fire for gaps in its long-term zoning plans that could have allowed the massive store to be built in Ballston. The town council, including Supervisor Ray Callanan, Townley and members Mary Beth Hynes, Jim Briaddy and Bob Boice, was also questioned about an alleged secret meeting that took place just prior to the vote to ban Wal-Mart from town.
The board faced public outcry beginning in March 2007, when members voted unanimously to sign on with the Saratoga County Water System as its largest future customer despite appeals for more information from the public.
Last week, in an exclusive report by Spotlight Newspapers, it was revealed the town board failed to research their current contractual agreement to buy water from the town of Glenville, and is in fact locked into a contract with no release clause until 2022.
Southworth said Tuesday night she will seek the opinions of town residents and business owners before determining how to unsnarl the issue of two water providers.
`My first step in office will be to provide the open government I have promised,` said Southworth. `As a result, we will hold a public hearing that is eight months overdue. This will direct us as to how to proceed.`
Southworth said her goals include trimming the town budget, including asking why the board voted to give themselves a raise for the second year in a row; assuring compliance with open government laws; ending the influence of special interest groups such as developers; and assuring smart growth to protect the rural flavor.
Southworth has lived in Ballston for 22 years, raising three children with her husband, Patrick, who chairs the town’s Democratic committee. Southworth recently retired from practicing pharmacy to work full-time as town supervisor once elected.
Townley served the town as a council member for 28 years, 20 years as deputy town supervisor. Townley and worked on projects including the Veterans Bike Path, the Ballston Lake fishing pier, a new library and the addition to town hall.
Republicans take two open seats on board
Despite a new Democratic town supervisor, Republicans remain the dominant party in the town slate of elected officials.
Republican newcomers Kimberly Ireland and Tim Szczepaniak won the two open seats on the Ballston town council, nudging out Democratic candidate George Seymour.
Election Day brought a sweep at the polls, with Ireland earning the lion’s share of 1,787 votes. Szczepaniak received 1,412 votes, and Seymour trailed with 1,309 votes. Another Democratic candidate, Janet Milos, who did not campaign publicly, earned 790 votes.
Ireland made a strong campaign push including going door-to-door and speaking out to groups about her hands-on experience through her work as the director of the state Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. During a Meet the Candidate’s night last month, Ireland said she works with constituents on an almost daily basis and understands the importance of responsive service. She is a strong supporter of two-way communications between elected officials and town residents. Her goals include establishing town hall meetings and open office hours for members of the council. Ireland has also said she would like to expand the town newsletter to come out on a regular, quarterly basis.
Ireland and Szczepaniak campaigned as a team and pledged to consult with traffic experts and engineers to draft future plans for keeping conditions safe on Route 50 and Lakehill Road, particularly with school children and buses frequenting the area, and to balance business growth downtown. They also promoted the need for new and expanded town parks, such as improving Jenkins Park.
Seymour, a biology teacher and the kindergarten-through-12th-grade science coordinator for the BH-BL district, said late Tuesday night the campaign was a good experience.
`It was very positive; I campaigned with great people,` said Seymour. `One of the highlights was the candidates night; my daughter said she was very proud of me. I’m not going to decide tonight if I’ll ever run again.`
Incumbent Hogue holds tax collector seat
Republican Anne Hogue, the town’s tax collector since 1994, earned 1,701 votes, beating Democratic candidate Peter Petrillose, who earned 980 votes.
Hogue spoke strongly during her campaigning, compared to Petrillose who had a lower profile.
`It’s not a glamorous job, and to suggest as my opponent has that the tax collector has any say in the future budget in untrue,` said Hogue. `I have brought the office into the 20th century by computerizing the system to handle the town’s growth.`
A Burnt Hills native, Hogue and her husband, Glenn, are also the owners of Fo’Castle Farm Country Store, the fourth generation to continue business at the Ballston landmark.
Swatling unopposed as town clerk
Republican Muriel Swatling was voted in to her 31st year as town clerk, running unopposed. Swatling earned 1,981 votes on Election Day. She gained her experience while serving as deputy town clerk from 1959 through 1972 for her father, Herbert C. Ketchum, who was town clerk from 1941 through 1972.“