The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee’s Ethical Problem

I attended the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee’s meeting on Saturday, March 18, 2023. I was asked to leave, but as it was held at the Saratoga Springs Library, all events in the library’s meeting rooms must be open to the public, so I was able to stay and observe what Chair Pat Tuz touted as a “Rah,rah fellowship meeting”. The meeting included some questionable directions to petition gatherers.

Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran is head of the committee collecting signatures for election petitions. This process has become especially challenging this year as, in addition to the full slate of candidates on the petitions the committee members are circulating, Democrat Chris Mathiesen is also independently circulating a petition for Mayor and Democrat Michele Madigan is also independently circulating a petition for the second Supervisor slot. Someone asked Moran what to do if a person they approached said they wanted to sign the petition for one of the challengers rather than for the candidates on the committee petitions. Moran responded that they should just pass on to the next person. You cannot sign petitions for two different people running for the same office therefore if someone wanted to sign Chris Mathiesen’s petition for mayor, they could not also sign a petition for Ron Kim for Mayor.

Then Committee member Shafer Gaston spoke up. He told the attendees that it was actually not illegal to sign more than one petition for the same office . He told them to tell people they could sign as many petitions as they wanted and they should get the signature anyway.

It is true that it is not illegal to sign for more than one candidate for the same office. But it is also true that your signature may not count if you do this. Election law establishes that if the same person signs for two different candidates for the same office, the signature with the earliest date is valid and the other is not.

So while it may not be illegal to encourage voters to sign all the petitions they want, it is surely unethical and manipulative to mislead a voter into signing a petition for a candidate they do not want to support without telling them that their signature for the candidate they do like will then be invalid.

Neither Moran nor anyone else at the meeting pushed back on Gaston.

12 thoughts on “The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee’s Ethical Problem”

    1. All I can say, Duke, is that SS Democratic Committee chair Pat Tuz prevented candidates looking for the Democratic endorsement from being able to address the full committee (in violation of their own stated procedures) so it’s not surprising that she didn’t want to allow registered Democrats to even sit and observe the committee doing business. Keep in mind that these committee members are elected to represent the Democrats in the city and that the Saratoga County Democratic Committee invites all Democrats to attend their meetings. So much for these city committee members standing for democracy and transparency.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. In all fairness to Pat Tuz, she did reverse course when she allowed Michele and me to speak to the full Democratic Committee. She took a lot of heat from certain members of the party for doing so

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “How dare the Chair actually follow our stated procedures?”

      No surprise a group that acts this way has brought forward awful candidates like Kim, Montagnino, Sanghvi and Moran.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My experience with the committee is that very little they focus on has to do with what is best for the city, rather they are caught up in old rivalries, bruised egos and self-interest.

    And I find their approach to running candidates very flawed – for example, it is easy to see why they thought Jim Montagnino would be a good DPS Commissioner, but now it is quite clear he is not the right person for that position. Rather than accept that and look for someone who would do a better job for Saratoga, the committee’s mindset is that it is still better to run an incumbent to increase their chances of winning. So they’d rather re-elect a failed candidate than try to find someone who could succeed in that position – talk about terrible short term thinking.

    At the end of the day it is really all just pathetic and quite sad for Saratoga. With the heavy democratic enrollment advantage, city elections have been and are going to be VERY difficult for any republican to win. One party domination isn’t healthy for democracy and it especially isn’t healthy when the people in control are behaving the way this committee is.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There are a number of interesting characters currently on the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee. To begin to give you the flavor of it take Shafer Gaston, for instance, who was mentioned in this post. He made a name for himself in the past by being proud that he allowed the use of the word c**t to refer to Robin Dalton on his facebook page. Ron Kim has now appointed him to the ZBA. Then there is Joanne Yepsen who is back on the committee. Joanne is remembered by many as the only elected official in the history of the city who was cited for an ethics violation. Yepsen saw no problem soliciting a job from the hospital when they had business pending before her and the Council. The finding against her was even more significant since it came from an ethics board that she had appointed. Yepsen was chosen by chair Pat Tuz to serve on the committee’s endorsement committee. Ahh, the Democratic Committee—the last bastion of democracy. It’s no wonder they endorse the candidates they do.

      Liked by 5 people

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