The town of Saratoga Springs, New York has just elected a new Democratic Mayor — and political observers from both parties say Home Depot had a role in the former Mayor’s downfall. Ken Klotz is the new Mayor of Saratoga Springs. In a city that has a two to one Republican majority among voters, a Democratic Mayor and a Democratic City Council is an unexpected outcome of November 2nd’s election — and to think that Home Depot may have cost the Mayor and a City Councilor their jobs! In 1997, Home Depot proposed building a store on Excelsior Avenue. Many Saratogians mobilized against the plan, and faulted then Mayor Michael O’Connell for not coming to the defense of embattled residents. Candidate Klotz, by contrast, warned voters that development in the city was moving “too far, too fast” according to the Saratogian newspaper. Similarly, City Council candidate Ben Mirling, unseated an 18 year Republican veteran on the Council. Mirling included controlled growth as part of his political platform. According to the Daily Gazette newspaper, “the contentious Home Depot issue was a major factor in the defeat of the two Republicans”. Home Depot fought with residents in Saratoga Springs for about a year, and then gave up its plans for the city and moved to the next town over. Residents also criticized incumbent Mayor O’Connell for helping to pass a pro-developers Master Plan that concentrates more power in the hands of a Planning Board — all of whose members are appointed by the Mayor. As one reporter summed it up: “It seems there was a perception that greed was taking over, and that the Democrats were more concerned about John and Jane Resident.” Home Depot, and its supporters, lost the races at Saratoga.
Republicans in Saratoga Springs told the media that “lingering bad feelings over Home Depot” were demonstrated at the polls where Democrat Klotz won three Republican dominated districts near the Home Depot proposed site. In three districts where Republicans comprise 70% of the voters, the Democratic challenger walked off with 55% of the vote. That means that a lot of Republicans crossed parties to vote against the Mayor Who Did Not Defend The Neighborhoods. For another story of anti-sprawl November election results, see the story about Loudon County, Virginia in the newsflash below.