Fitzpatrick and Rossi vie for mayor of Ballston Spa in next week’s special election – The Daily Gazette
BALLSTON SPA — Mayor Christine Fitzpatrick says Frank Rossi Jr., her Republican opponent in next week’s Village special election, is more interested in being an “influencer” than serving the Village, and when things go do not go his way, he is likely to threaten to sue the village.
Rossi, on the other hand, said Fitzpatrick and the board’s reliance on grants, their collective inability to manage infrastructure issues such as water, and their apparent insistence on having the last word at public meetings all combined to frustrate residents.
The special election will be held March 15 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Eagle Matt Lee Fire Co., 35 Washington St. and Union Fire Co., 319 Milton Ave. It will decide unexpired terms for mayor and a seat on the board. of trustees.
Fitzpatrick, a Democrat who lives on Chapman Street, and Rossi of Saratoga Avenue, are vying for the remaining year of former Mayor Larry Woolbright’s term, which expires in April 2023.
Democrat Kamran Parwana and Republican Bernadette VanDeinse-Perez are running as directors.
Additionally, a polling question asks voters to move village elections from March to November.
The referendum was led by Fitzpatrick, who said it made more sense to join other communities in voting in November. It would also be cheaper, she said, because the village could ask the Saratoga County Board of Elections to run elections, instead of the village running them itself.
Fitzpatrick has served on the village board since 2019. She rose from deputy mayor to become the village’s first female mayor on November 8, following Woolbright’s resignation in October.
This is Rossi’s first bid for public office, although the lawyer and promoter has long been involved in village government proceedings.
Rossi said he was surprised and moved when Woolbright unexpectedly endorsed him and his running mate, VanDeinse-Perez, last week.
In an interview, Fitzpatrick said his main goal as mayor would be to maintain the village’s fiscal integrity – having been part of a regime that helped right the village’s financial ship.
Fitzpatrick claims the village was not deliberate in its actions until 2019. Before that, it was reactionary.
“If something broke, they fixed it, but they had never done a lot of planning. And since 2019, we have developed an economic development plan, we have developed a master plan for pedestrians and cyclists,” she said, adding that the village had received a brownfield opportunity grant, while Fitzpatrick was instrumental in awarding archive management. to agree.
Fitzpatrick said the village was not even eligible for many grant programs because its finances were not in order, nor had it organized training on issues such as discrimination and discrimination. harassment.
“It’s never done by just one person,” she said. “When you ask me what I’ve achieved, I’ve achieved things by working as a team.”
Fitzpatrick said she has more than 35 years of experience managing and directing operations for public, nonprofit and private organizations.
She also suggests that she has the best “temperament” to serve as mayor. She said her strength was “working with people and getting people to pull in the same direction”, and she has experience negotiating with village unions.
“I have the patience to go all the way,” she said. “In many [Rossi’s] situations, if things don’t go the way he thinks they should, he threatens to take legal action. He never sat on any committee. He has never held public office. He has never served on any of our committees or on any of our boards of directors.
Fitzpatrick also stresses that she has no conflict of interest, while she suggested that might not be the case if Rossi is elected.
“I have been a resident of the village of Ballston Spa for 35 years, and the only thing I own is the house I live in. I have no outside interests. There is no outside influence on me. I do this to give back to the community I live in, and really because I feel the need to give back to the community. It might sound corny, but that’s actually why I do it.
She said Rossi owns or has a stake in “considerable property in the village” and “there are going to be situations in which he is going to have to recuse himself”.
Fitzpatrick, who has fought past efforts to bring big-box retail stores such as Walmart to the village, dismissed being called anti-development.
“I’m a development pro – but for the kind of development Ballston Spa needs, which is development that’s in the character of Ballston Spa,” she said.
Rossi, in an interview, said his experience was on par with Fitzpatrick’s.
“I have been involved with local government, particularly in the towns of Milton, Ballston and the village of Ballston Spa since 2011 in relation to municipal approvals, and even dealing with individual members of council on a variety of questions over time, especially on land use type things and zoning,” he said.
He was also involved in the village’s water and sewer concerns.
Rossi’s family owns land in Ballston Spa where there is a Hannaford grocery store.
“I was overseeing pretty much everything that happened along the way – with water, sewer and road,” he said, calling it a “good baptism of fire” in local government.
He dismissed Fitzpatrick’s description of his experience.
“From what I understand, she has a career in teaching and human resources – in health issues,” he said. “She doesn’t have what I would call any kind of government experience.”
During his campaign, Rossi said he met many people who rolled their eyes at the current administration’s reliance on handouts — instead of a bigger plan for how to get things done financially.
“For her to sit there and try to choose my level of experience or my level of preparation for the job is kind of laughable,” Rossi said, “and I really don’t appreciate that. I’m also a teacher.
Rossi also accused his opponent of misinterpreting his business interests.
“I personally do not own any land. I own an apartment in New York which was my residence when I worked there. My mom and I are partners on this…
“My family owns land, and the only thing left for us to develop in the village of Ballston Spa are our three buildings in Mohican Hill, phase 2 of the project, and these are already approved,” said he said of the apartments. . He said the family was waiting for the price of building materials to come down before embarking on the completion of the project.
Rossi said the only matter he should recuse himself from is dealing with the fire department since he has family in the department.
And he dismissed the idea that he is litigious.
“I never sued anyone at Ballston Spa,” he said. “I have had no litigation on behalf of anyone I have signed my name with since 2007.”
However, he admitted that his family had threatened to sue when he felt village officials had ‘crossed lines’ over the building of the flat.
“Sometimes you have to use strong language to get people to stop doing things they shouldn’t be doing. That said, I never sued, ever.
Rossi suggests that the current council needs guidance in managing the water system.
“They didn’t do anything to the point that I got scolded by them at [a recent] village meeting on ongoing “misinformation” on social media about water. And then the next night, while attending a budget workshop, they realized they hadn’t even done the housework they were supposed to do for the entire past fiscal year.
Additionally, Rossi said he would like the council to post all of the village’s water studies on the village’s website, as people have had to resort to filing freedom of association law applications. information to get the information.
“What are they hiding, and what is the truth after all?” Rossi asked.
He said the lack of transparency is consistent with the board’s “elitist” attitude.
“It’s kind of a ‘maybe we’re too dumb to understand’ tone that they take with this stuff, and it’s really a slap in the face for the residents.”
If elected, Rossi said he would target the village’s aging stock of public works equipment and facilitate the redevelopment of derelict properties.
“Some parts are 29 years old,” he said of the DPW gear. “None of this is new. Everything is double digits or worse in terms of years.
Rossi said he was concerned about the future of Rickett’s Cleaners, which is being torn down by the state Superfund.
“Christine Fitzpatrick and her administration proposed a [shadow] moratorium last year to stop redevelopment except under their specific list of demands,” Rossi said.
“We have people interested in redevelopment of these sites, which needs to happen,” he said. “They look awful… But this [shadow moratorium] chasing redevelopment and chasing dollars and developers because they don’t know what to expect or what to expect here.
Rossi said he understands Robert’s rules of procedure dictate how boards conduct meetings in New York.
But he said the current council is violating the spirit of public meetings.
“It frustrates a lot of residents who want to understand what’s going on with a lot of issues affecting them right now,” he said. “So this kind of elitism and the need to have the final say on all of this is really hurting the village and the spirit of the village right now.”
Contact journalist Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.
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