A new beginning
But after a few hours, this glorious mantle reverts into a greasy pall. The staccato sounds of tandem snow blowers shatter the snow-covered tranquility of the city and plows push heaps of oily snow onto the sides of every thoroughfare. The majestic winter wonderland is quickly transformed into the dark and dreary reality many northerners dread during the year’s lingering months.
In a way, the metaphor is fitting on the eve when the city’s disgraced city council passes the torch to the new one. On New Year’s Eve three years ago, the city Republicans left office in disgrace, passing the keys to city hall onto what was then called “an all-Democrat” council. For many of the city’s centrist and progressive voters, it was as if a fresh snow had blanketed Saratoga Springs.
There was the same giddy sense that grade school children awake with when their window sill is piled high with fresh snow. It was almost as if the seedy element of politics had been swept away; city residents could take pride in the emergence of a new moral leadership that had emerged.
Of course, this was all an illusion and one that was quickly swept away. Today, on the eve of a new regime taking office, there seems to be a similar sense among the electorate, albeit not as palpable as before. While the dwindling warriors of the fractured city Democrats continue to point fingers at every chance and chat base they get, Mayor-elect Scott Johnson is quietly setting down a list of goals that would seemingly appease both ends of the political spectrum.
Johnson spoke at length with the Glens Falls Post Star this weekend in an interview that could only be viewed as a breath of fresh air for a city that has suffered more than four years of political misgivings. If you haven’t read it already, take a long gander and take note; these are the elements that will define Johnson’s tenure as the Spa City’s mayor. While too long to summarize, the interview suggests Johnson as an intelligent and thoughtful leader, more prone to accomplishing city needs than his or his party’s agenda.
Among other things, Johnson suggests he’ll be a hands-on mayor for the city, one more prone to getting involved with its inner workings. This could be a sort of trial run for the city to see how a full-time mayor might work out. At the same time, he suggests the commissioner-form of government could use some tweaking, rather than the bull-in-the-china-shop approach taken last year by the charter-revisionists.
The Spa City’s new mayor added his doubts about the hastily drawn-up plans for a new public safety facility. Rather than simply bluster on about the dire need for a new station, he urged taking all options into account. Johnson wryly and appropriately noted that none of the so-called “studies” done recently have explored what exactly to do with the old police station if a new facility is built. He also made specific note of the tenuous nature of the city’s contract with LaBella Associates to design plans for the structure. In other words: “Don’t spend the money before you have it,” he told the Post Star in the interview.
Johnson distanced himself from the notion he was recruited by county GOP heavyweight Jasper Nolan. Instead, he indicated a “mutual connection” between him and the city’s Republican committee urged him to take a spot on the ballot. This is an interesting assertion and one that might distance the new mayor from the old guard Republicans that were pitched from office in 2005.
But, like everything Johnson suggests, only time will tell. Sometimes the fresh fallen snow melts to reveal the glorious rebirth of spring. Other times, it melts to reveal the bitter reality of another cold passage through winter.