City Democrats: Then and Now

Recently Suzanne Kwasniewski submitted a comment that noted my past criticisms of the city’s Democratic Party for its failure to take concrete positions on any of the controversies that have faced the city in recent memory.  She asked that I share what sort of positions the party took during Jane Weihe, my wife’s tenure as its chair.  She said she wanted to compare them.

Below I include both a reprint of Ms. Kwasniewski’s comment along with Jane’s response.

May 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm Edit

John, Your source wasn’t all that well-informed, since she couldn’t tell you the name of both supervisor candidates. Since complaining about the SSDC platform is a favorite activity of yours, how about sharing the SSDC platform developed under Jane’s leadership so we can compare? Thanks.


I apologize for not responding sooner to your inquiry about Democratic platforms when I was chair. I am only back in Saratoga for a couple of days and I was hoping I could quickly put my hands on some of the campaign literature we put together and post it. Unfortunately it was not as easy to find this stuff as I had assumed—too many boxes and files accumulated over the years! So the best I can do until I can get back to the boxes is to tell you some of the positions we took as a committee and that our candidates campaigned on.

For one thing we took a strong stand against introducing casino gambling to Saratoga when it was proposed in the early 1990’s, something I was surprised the current committee was silent on. We also took stands against specific development projects we thought were inappropriate for the greenbelt such as the Anderson proposal to put an office park at Exit 14. Again I was surprised that the committee did not take a position on SNGC’s expansion proposal that clearly violated the zoning in the outer district.  Only Chris Mathiesen articulated a position that I would have thought the whole committee should have supported.

We took a stand against the adoption of the1987 Master Plan (as it was called then) that called for rezoning major areas of the city for greater density. We called for a new master plan that would preserve low density development in the outer district and direct new development downtown.   This was the campaign where then Skidmore professor and committee member Ron Edsforth coined the phrase “Keep Saratoga Springs a small city in the country” to describe our vision of how we thought Saratoga should develop in contrast to what the Republicans at the time were proposing in their Master Plan.  Interestingly enough in that campaign we also called for an EMT station to serve the eastern plateau where development was just beginning to accelerate.

All and all we aimed to be concrete not just theoretical in our positions. It’s easy to be for Saratoga being “a city in the country” these days.  Who in town isn’t ready now to mouth that phrase? What should distinguish candidates and parties is where they land on actual proposals that threaten this concept.

Jane Weihe

4 thoughts on “City Democrats: Then and Now”

  1. I don’t remember all the issues that the City Democratic Committee took up during my years as a committeeman under Jane’s leadership. I do remember that she was energetic and progressive as our tiny committee attempted to undo the strong hold that the Republicans had on our City. Many of Jane’s efforts contributed to the emergence of Democrats in City government.

    Chris Mathiesen


  2. Yes Jane, you are right/ Standing up for specifics on issues is what each political party should do. People deserve choices not pompous meaningless verbiage, which is the current Democratic platform. Why is it meaningless? Cuz not all the Democratic candidates will act in accordance with it. We know the Republicans support a single use parking garage…Dems???? nothin
    We know the Republicans support ripping up historical greenspace in an affordable neighborhood in order to cheaply expand the hospital,,,Dem? nada We know Republicans don’t want affordable/workforce housing but Michele and John said they wanted to hear more from the bankers and developers at yet again another public session. These are great examples where you have Democrat officials taking on republican agenda items. And, in the spirit of further limiting choices, 3 council members are running unopposed in closed door deal making. How is this democracy? Just so disgusted. Oh well, that’s Saratoga Springs for ya.


    1. ABM – as one who is working hard to get REAL workforce, senior and vet housing done here, I can assure you that you are VERY wrong on John and Michele (who have already worked on many housing projects here), but also the republicans I have met with, who seem to have a MUCH better grasp on the entire picture of housing than the dems do right now. The idea is to pass things that WILL work for all, not something with a lot of issues that EXcludes most of the people in this city that need it the most.

      And I am a liberal democrat (who is just as disgusted with the dems here as one can possibly be), who agreed with the hospital expansion too.


  3. We know the Republicans do support historical greenspace. We know Republicans do want affordable/workforce housing. ” 3 council members are running unopposed in closed door deal making.” is a false narrative created by the fringe. Simply put John, Michele and Skip are unopposed because they are doing a great job for the city and no one can beat them. Something Patrick Kane will find out shortly but is self-evident to those that care

    Liked by 1 person

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