Saratoga Springs’ mayoral race is heating up. Former Saratoga commissioner of public safety Ron Kim announced that he would be running for mayor. Kim, a democrat, will face downtown business owner Heidi Owen West, who already received the city’s Republican Party endorsement (she’s running as an independent).
Kim announced his candidacy at Saratoga’s 9/11 memorial in High Rock Park on April 7, comparing our current, post-pandemic times to those just after the September 11th terrorist attacks. To that end, Kim told the crowd gathered that he was running for mayor to bring back “unity” and a “singular purpose” to the city. Kim added: “Just like in 2001, we’ve gone through difficult times, we’ve lost good friends, we’ve seen suffering [and] we’ve witnessed injustice. As a community, we can only recover if we come together.”
Among Kim’s top priorities, if he were elected, would be to finally build the East Side Rec fire station and “reimagine” Saratoga’s police force, working with the city council, Saratoga police department and community “to make sure we get justice right here.” He directly addressed the protestors that first took to the streets last summer, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, saying: “I hear you. I’ve had my own experiences with racism in this nation. In 1981, at the height of the Iranian crisis, somebody spit on me, started shouting racial slurs, and it was so absurd, I wasn’t even sure what was happening. But I’ll never forget that experience.” He said he’d also dealt with racial profiling before becoming Saratoga’s commissioner of public safety in 2006. “A few months after 9/11, I was driving with my family to a swim meet in Central New York…and I was pulled over, not by one, not by two, but three police officers in a small New York town. I was eventually handcuffed, and they brought me to the station, and they handcuffed me to the booking desk. I was detained for three hours. The only explanation at that time was that my registration was outdated. I suspect that they pulled me over because I don’t look like a person in Central New York on a sunny day. So I understand what the people in the streets protesting for racial justice are talking about; I’ve experienced that.” Kim did go on to say that he believes that “not all police officers are bad,” having worked with and for many of them during his term as public safety commissioner, and that the community needed to hear that.
Kim also said Saratoga needed to assist its downtown businesses, making sure that there was a safe road ahead following the pandemic, as well as making sure that there would be a long-term plan in place to prepare them for the next major pandemic or obstacle down the road. “Our business community is how our quality of life in Saratoga Springs is maintained,” said Kim. “I hope that we can work together.” Furthermore, he noted that he wanted to ramp up infrastructure work on the city, if and when federal funding came through for it, and eventually, turn Saratoga into a carbon-neutral city by 2030.
Kim will be running to replace current democratic mayor Meg Kelly, who announced in January that she would not be seeking reelection. Kim, who owns a law firm in Saratoga, served as the city’s public safety commissioner from 2006-10.