Saratoga Springs hires outside attorney for charter change ballot count

November 13, 2017 07:13 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The voting is over but the passion remains.

There were several threats to throw people out of a special Saratoga Springs City Council meeting Monday afternoon.

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The topic: hiring an outside attorney to observe absentee ballot counting in the undecided race to change the city charter.
One after another, residents lined up opposed to the city spending up to $5,000 on outside counsel.
"Let the Board of Elections do its job tomorrow," said Susan Steer.

"You as council members have no standing in this issue," said Phil Diamond, another Saratogian.

The "yes" votes, which would change the current commissioner form of government to a hired manager with an elected council, lead the "no" votes by 48, with 548 absentees to be counted.

Of the three commissioners who attended the meeting, all were opposed to changing the charter, but they say that's not why they're hiring an attorney.

"That we had somebody who could report back to the City Council to tell them how the vote went and what attorneys were there trying to have the votes stopped because I don't want to have votes stopped. I want 'em all counted," said Accounts Commissioner John Franck.

Franck says he's concerned that attorneys working for other campaigns will try to suppress votes.

Many at the meeting said the commissioners in favor of hiring an attorney should pay for it themselves.

"I'm really concerned that they're using taxpayer dollars to advance personal and political interests in this process," said Bob Turner, the chairman of the now defunct Charter Review Commission.

Mayor Joanne Yepsen didn't go to the meeting but emailed a statement minutes after it ended, saying in part, "...they should use their own funds or private money to hire an attorney, not the people's money. This is a misuse of public dollars and unfair to taxpayers."

NewsChannel 13 will cover the absentee ballot counting Tuesday.


Mark Mulholland

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