Skidmore Democrats host Meet-the-Candidates night for Democrats running in local elections: Students and Saratoga community meet with candidates to discuss local issues

Posted by Michael DuPr??


Six Democrats running for various positions in New York introduced themselves to students on Tuesday night to share their platforms and connect with the student body.

About 20 Skidmore students and Saratoga Springs residents attended the meeting.

John Silvestri, running for the supreme Court of New York's Fourth Judicial District, touted his 30 years of litigation experience in the Fourth District. If elected, he will strive to be an impartial justice who grants all constituents equal standing before their government.

Brent Wilkes, a candidate running for mayor of Saratoga Springs, spoke to audience members about his life working in public administration. If elected, he promises to make the city's government more transparent and to negotiate new contracts with the police and firefighters unions.

When asked about considering a citywide ban on hydrofracking, Wilkes said he had concerns about the practice and had yet to see evidence of any positive aspects of it.

Wilkes also stressed the need to consider all forms of transportation when new road construction occurs, and insisted that he is committed to sustainability, as part of the Cool Cities Initiative.

Chris Mathiesen is vying for public safety commissioner on the Saratoga Springs City Council and expressed his desire to keep Saratoga Springs a vibrant and safe community. One of his biggest tenets involves moving the last call in Saratoga Springs drinking establishments from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Mathiesen said he believes Downtown Saratoga Springs becomes dangerous in the early morning, and making the last call earlier would reduce the cost of policing the area. He also supports defraying the policing costs by raising revenue from bars that choose to stay open late.

Michele Madigan, who is running for commissioner of finance, pledged a commitment to an accurate budget. If elected, she promises to properly manage the city's budget and to reduce the number of line transfers in the budget and create a three- to five-year budget plan. 

Joanne Yepsen is running for re-election for her fourth term as the Saratoga County supervisor. She thanked students for their collaboration with sustainability groups and encouraged them to vote for all of the Democratic candidates present at the meeting.

Students responded positively to the efforts candidates made to address issues important to the student body. "I think that it is important that the candidates acknowledge that Skidmore is part of Saratoga Springs," Roz Freeman '12 said. "I appreciated Joanne Yepsen's openness and how much she clearly wanted to work with Skidmore students."

Emma Kurs '12 was also appreciative of the chance to hear the candidates' personal stories and plans. "I like that some of the candidates proposed holding office hours and informal conversations with constituents, and generally increasing transparency in the governing process. It was great to meet the candidates in person and hear directly from them because there is not much information online," Kurs said.

"It can be difficult at times to interest students in local politics," said Bryn Schockmel '12, president of Skidmore Democrats, "so it was really nice to have so many students come, and ask the political candidates important questions about the environment and other issues."

Students who are registered to vote in Saratoga Springs can participate in the next general election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Registered voters will be able to vote at the Case Center polling from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Registrations must be completed by this Friday, Oct. 14, in order to vote this November. Vote registration booths can be found in the Atrium. 

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