SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The change in leadership in the Spa City comes after a year of tension between the mayor and public safety commissioner. On Wednesday NEWS10 heard from voters and a city council member who shared thoughts on the election results.
Residents said they are now breathing a sigh of relief after a tumultuous two years. Black Lives Matter activists called on Commissioner of Public Safety Jim Montagnino to resign after he filed charges against Chandler Hickenbottom, one of the group’s leaders, for continuing to speak after her time for public comment ran out during a city council meeting.
Mayor Ron Kim criticized the decision to file charges and said at the time that it was an unnecessary distraction. The two have had several public confrontations in the past that have heated up this last year.
NEWS10 spoke to voters in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday and they were not surprised by the election results. They said citizens made it loud and clear at the polls, they do not want contention between their leaders to take away from the issues at hand.
“It’s not surprising I think it’s a shift that’s been overdue,” said Adam Hills, a Saratoga Springs resident. “I’m just looking forward to getting some stability and civility back into town hall, so really excited about how it went. I think that’s the direction it’s gone and the voters have spoken. It seems pretty clear.”
Democratic City Council Member Minita Sanghvi supported Kim’s re-election bid but realizes voters have had enough.
“What ended up happening in public really is that two people were fighting a whole bunch at city council meetings, outside of city council meetings, and I think the message was very clear from the public that they did not want that, they thought it was taking away from the issues that we needed to be working on.”
Local business owner Heidi Owen West echoed those concerns.
“I will tell you I am thrilled. I think it’s been a rough two years and I think it’s time to get back to the city’s business, as a business owner. We have had a lot of distractions in our city,” said Owen West.
She also hopes they bring civility back to the city council meetings, so she can feel safe at meetings again. Sanghvi said that the leadership accomplished a lot, and leaders were passionate about the issues, but that was lost on the community.
“Is the drama actually helping your cause? Right? Is the passion actually helping you get to the end? But if it’s not then it’s mostly getting in the way and so to me yes I feel passionate about a lot of things but I want to find consensus to get moving forward,” said Sanghvi.
While reporting we ran into Montagnino and asked him about the loss and he also was not surprised by the results. He said he’s looking forward to traveling with his wife.
Residents said they are looking forward to ushering in a new era in local politics in Saratoga Springs.