Former Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan was recently elected as one of the two Supervisors for the city. (Photo provided)
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — A familiar face returns to Spa City leadership as Michele Madigan will be filling one of the city’s County Supervisor positions.
Madigan, who was a five-term Commissioner of Finance, is excited to be stepping into a role that isn’t exactly on the City Council but still allows her to serve her city.
“I am very thrilled about being the newest Saratoga Springs County Supervisor,” Madigan said in a recent interview, noting it was a whole new experience for her. “I’m going to work with a much larger board of 23 supervisors and I’m looking forward to getting to know and understanding how we conduct county business and the processes that go along with it.
“I’ve got to tell you, I’m excited in a way I haven’t been in a long time about doing something.”
A longtime Democrat, Madigan lost in her party’s primary in the summer of 2019 before winning in the general election four months later, appearing on the Working Families, Independence and SAM party lines. In 2020, Madigan announced she would not be seeking re-election for the Commissioner of Finance position in 2021.
She said she thought it was time, serving in the position for a decade, that somebody else step up, and decided if she was going to stay in politics it was time to move on to something else.
That something else ended up being the open seat for the County Supervisor.
With Democrat Tara Gaston leaving office, Madigan saw the open seat as her chance to re-enter local politics and it inspired her to throw her hat in the ring. That and the knowledge that some of her fellow Democrats had left the party in 2019. She believed that running and potentially getting the seat might be something that could bring those who might have left the party with her back into the fold.
“I’ve always stayed involved in politics, and I’ve been paying attention to the current City Council and what happens at the county and what happens at the state,” Madigan shared. “I thought that since there’s an open seat, I’m going to go for it and maybe, just maybe, I can do some repairing of some of the slips that have happened since 2019 and overall.
“That is one of my end goals.”
Madigan ran on the One Saratoga party line in November, a concept she had previously run on but in the years since that concept had transformed into an actual party. Madigan also appeared on the Democratic line although she was not endorsed by the party. Instead, she and her supporters went out and got signatures.
In November, she received 33.4% of the vote setting her up to claim one of two seats, with incumbent Mathew Veitch receiving 36.4% of the vote to reclaim the seat he has held for the past 16 years. Democratic Party-endorsed nominee Gordon Boyd received 30.2% of the vote.
In such a tight race, Madigan was glad she received the number she did because she said it proved people were fed up with a lot of negativity she believed was prominent in this election.
“There’s just been a lot of division and nonstop negativity about me,” Madigan expressed. “I tried to run a very positive campaign and run on my record of 10 years, even though my record was being twisted. So I think what made people support me was that I ran a positive campaign. I still had good name recognition even though some people wanted to spin my work negatively, most people in this community, I think, do know me and know I did good work for the city.”
If she had to select one thing she was most excited about with this new position it would be to learn more about Saratoga County as a whole and to bring good ideas back with her to share with Saratoga Springs.
“I have a lot of energy and I want to see this county continue to move forward positively, whether it’s through smart cities, energy efficiencies or sustainability,” Madigan shared regarding what she is most excited about getting involved in. “Those are all issues I’m really interested in. Economic and community development, I want to be a part of that. So I can’t explain how excited I am to work in any one of those realms.
“Even if I’m not on an individual committee, I can help support a committee with sort of my knowledge and background and my vote.”
As she prepares to start in this new role, Madigan expressed how she is working to shift her thinking from that of a City Council member to that of a County Supervisor, which she acknowledges Veitch as being a big help in preparing her.
“It’s interesting because my mind was still so set in the city. Matt (Veitch) spent some time with me and brought me up to speed on some of what’s going on at the county and anytime I sort of went over to the city he’d refocus me and be like, ‘Okay, now back to the county,’” Madigan shared. “By the time we were done with the conversation, I was so fascinated by everything that was happening and some of the good projects on the forefront, that I found myself talking less and less about city stuff — not that I don’t care, I do care, I’m a city resident, but I was getting more and more interested in things going on at a county level.
“I’m becoming and I’m finding myself focusing on all this great stuff happening over at the county and this is where I want to put my energy into.”
While Madigan is delighted to be stepping into this role, she understands there is a learning curve. However, that has only motivated her and she is not just excited to but believes it’s important to get to know her colleagues on the County Board of Supervisors, partially to help her get the lay of the land but also because one of her biggest goals as a County Supervisor is to help foster better relationships for Saratoga Springs at the county level.
“I need to work on having a good relationship with the County Board of Supervisors because I do represent the City of Saratoga Springs and I want them (her fellow board members) to know that while I’m going to always vote my conscience, my vote is my vote, I want to work well with them,” she said. “My main goal is to help the city and to make sure we get our fair share.
“We can’t be playing games and we’re going to be professionals who are going to negotiate appropriately. We’re not always going to agree, but we got to dial down our rhetoric and we’ve got to make sure that the county sees us for who we are. We’re a major player and we contribute a lot to the county’s budget.”
Other goals Madigan has for her time as County Supervisor are to help address homelessness in Spa City and work on getting an earlier bar closing time. She said she cannot wait to be a voice for Saratogians at the county level and to assist in making sure that Saratoga is as successful as it can be.
Something Madigan hopes people keep in mind is that while she is new to the position of County Supervisor, it is not her first time holding public office and she doesn’t want to overlook the 10 years she had on the City Council.
“It was hard work and it was stressful and sometimes I feel like that work is twisted but I did a lot of good for the city and I will do a lot of good for us at the county,” said Madigan. “I want people to know that I will bring the same level of success, commitment and energy that I always have.”
She also hopes people keep in mind as she transitions into office that she is available and is happy to hear from her fellow Saratogians. Whether it’s an email, phone call or in-person, Madigan said she believes the best thing for a politician is hearing from their constituents and if people want to talk to her and share their input, she wants to listen.
“Anybody who approached me individually and asked for time and a meeting I was there, I had that meeting,” Madigan said. “Somebody called me on the phone and wanted a call-back, I called them back. Supervisors have an office at City Hall. I have a place to be right here in the city and I want people to know I’m available and that I’m going to work on the city’s behalf for the residents.
“Not just the people who voted for me, all the residents here — I’m going to work on their behalf on several topics and I hope to be successful.”
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