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Getting to Know Ron Kim, the New Mayor of Saratoga Springs

New York’s first Asian American city mayor has big plans for the Spa City’s COVID comeback.    

Current Mayor Ron Kim served two terms as Saratoga's public safety commissioner from 2005-09. (Francesco D'Amico)

Born in Schenectady and raised in Glens Falls, attorney Ronald J. Kim spent several years away from the Capital Region before deciding to return in the early ’90s with his wife and two young children. “We knew we wanted to come somewhere around here, but we weren’t sure exactly where,” says Kim. “We drove around, and Saratoga just clicked with us.” Fast forward nearly three decades and Kim, now a father of three (with a grandchild on the way) and owner of his own law practice, has found himself mayor of that very city that clicked with him and his family all those years ago. Saratoga Living sat down with Kim back in December to learn more about his campaign, goals and the lessons he’s learned.

What role did COVID-19 play in your decision to run for mayor?

My overall goal comes out of what COVID created, and that is that we need to build our community back up. I think the mayor’s function in any community is sort of building the community, rooting it on. I’ve talked to the Chamber about having a grand reopening of Saratoga Springs sometime in the spring, assuming we don’t have another real big problem with some variant, and just really taking conscious steps to bring the community back.

You served as Saratoga’s commissioner of public safety from 2005-2009. What made you want to return to City Hall more than a decade later?

After January 6, I thought it was really important for people to step up at all levels to make sure that democracy is preserved, that we protect it. At the same time, I was watching what was happening in Saratoga Springs with the marches and the protests, and I started to get concerned about what was happening in my city. I thought that I had some of the background that fit what was going to happen here.

What did Saratogians care about most this election cycle?

Homelessness. We have to do something about the homeless population in Saratoga Springs. The infrastructure I heard a lot about, and police reform, of course. The other thing was we have to build an East Side fire station, which is something that I tried to start the first time I was in City Hall.

What are your thoughts on Saratoga’s commissioner form of government?

I was chair of the last charter review, and helped advocate for the city manager plan that had been proposed. It failed—the voters spoke and they want to continue it—but I think we should revisit it at some point in the future. I do think that the one advantage we have with the commissioners coming in is that we have some common goals that we want to achieve. There’s some real opportunity to work together. But I don’t think the commissioner form of government is the most efficient, cost-effective way to run a city.

What do you like to do when you’re not being a lawyer or politician?

Every year since 2014 except last year I’ve done at least one triathlon. I’ve done New York City’s, I did a Texas one, I’ve done one in Bermuda. I’m hoping to continue doing that, but it’s really time consuming. My pandemic project was that I cataloged all our family photos and put them all on a hard drive. My kids loved it in some ways, but they thought I was really too anal retentive about the whole thing.

What’s one thing you learned on the campaign trail?

No matter whose door you knocked on, no matter their perspective—right, left, center—they love Saratoga. They came here because they loved it, or they were born and bred. Whatever their background, they love the place. They’re stressed out about what has happened to us in the last year or two, and they want us to do better. And I think we will. 

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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