For Ballston Councilwoman Kim Ireland, enough is enough.
Between holding a full-time job at National Grid, raising two daughters, 2 and 5, and serving on the Ballston Town Board, Ireland said there was too much on her plate to devote the time and energy each responsibility deserved and announced she would not be running for reelection.
Since taking office in 2008, my professional and personal situation has changed considerably following the birth of our second daughter and making a career change. I truly believe that people can have it all, but maybe not all at once, said Ireland. `Seeking re-election would not be fair to my family, my employer, or the town.`
When her 2-year-old asked her if she was going to a meeting one night after dinner, Ireland said she knew she couldn’t continue the hectic life she’d been leading as a town board member the past three years. She said her decision not to seek reelection at the end of her term is what’s best for her family and the town of Ballston.
`I know and recognize the fact that the town will have challenges going forward. We have a lot of development currently on the books,` said Ireland.
Ireland said GlobalFoundries will not only going to change Malta but have an impact on the whole Capital District. With Ballston being the next town over, Ireland said there needs to be people on the board that have the time and energy to tackle whatever may arise as a result.
`There’s going to be other development pressure coming in and we need people that will be on the board that can really dive into the issues and make sure our town is well prepared and able to respond to these issues,` said Ireland. `Right now between work and family, I just do not believe I can meet the time requirements that the town deserves.`
In a letter emailed to The Spotlight on Feb. 15 announcing her decision, Ireland expressed frustration with aspects of town government.
`While I have enjoyed serving the residents of Ballston, I have also been frustrated over the impact that needless, divisive politics has had on town operations. There has been a lack of communications and direction from the supervisor’s office that I do not believe has benefited the town,` said Ireland in the email. `This lack of leadership from the top has ill prepared our town for the days to come. We are a small town with so many wonderful attributes that political posturing and agendas should not be an obstacle to good governing.`
Ireland elaborated on her initial statement, saying she doesn’t believe the Town Board currently has a good working relationship and that has hindered progress.
`We’re a small enough town that I think ultimately we may agree on the issues but there’s an issue with being able to work together and that is extremely bothersome to me,` said Ireland. `If I thought the time I was putting into the town board was being used to the best usage, that’s fine, but right now I feel a lot of times we’re just spinning our tires.`
For example, said Ireland, she recently was made aware of an article in local media regarding the IDA and issues she felt she should have known about before the general public.
`Patti [Southworth] was involved in some decisions and this is the first time I’m hearing about it. When you have certain issues that relate to the town, and town council members read about it in the newspaper rather than hear it from the supervisor, that is an example of a problem,` said Ireland.
Southworth said that if Ireland had questions or needed information, she has always been available.
`I think communication is a two-way street and if she felt she wasn’t getting information she needed, she could have stopped into my office or picked up the phone,` said Southworth. `I’m always in my office and share the information when I have it. The other board members also have a responsibility to be at town hall and oversee functions of town government, that’s a responsibility of all five of us.`
Ireland said that since Southworth is the `figurehead` of the town, a boatload of information flows through the supervisor’s office and should be better distributed to town board members when it deals with town operations.
`Logically, a lot of information comes into that office but information I’m not aware of that falls under town operations and impacts the town, having that information flow to the full council would be extremely helpful on a monthly basis,` said Ireland. `It’s also up to members of the council to make sure we all step up to attempt to be engaged but if I don’t know the issues, it’s difficult to be engaged.`
Southworth said there are accomplishments the town achieved that speak to her leadership and the board’s.
`I think that leadership comes from the entire board. I have been a leader and we have done a lot of new things in town, from a town website to a parks and recreation committee to farmland protection committee and we still have no town tax,` said Southworth. `I have been a full-time supervisor so I am available to the public 24 hours a day, my cell phone number is out there and can used by anybody`town board members, residents, I’m always available.`
Ireland said that the best part of serving the town of Ballston has been meeting members of the community, and to that end, she plans to remain involved in the community in some other way. Despite her frustrations, she said she enjoyed her time serving the town and is proud of the community.
`We have a beautiful community I’m proud and honored to have had the opportunity to serve the town,` said Ireland.
Ireland’s term expires on Dec. 31.