The Saratoga 20: Local Superstars Who Are Changing The Way We Think About Saratoga

Lists are tricky things for magazines: Top 10 this and Power 50 that are minefields most editors in chief avoid at all costs. I’m not one of those editors.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

When we decided to celebrate saratoga living’s 20th anniversary, I knew we wanted to commemorate the occasion in a truly special way; hence, the birth of “The Saratoga 20.” Unlike lists based on marital status (singles), looks (sexiest) or influence (40 Under 40), our list consists of the ten men and ten women in Saratoga Springs and the Capital Region who not only excel in their chosen field, but also undeniably paint outside the lines and deeply contribute to the palpable mix that makes our home nothing short of magical.

Corporate executives, bar owners, politicians, entrepreneurs, designers, philanthropists—even high school students—ended up on our list and help make Saratoga one of the most important small towns in the world. Seriously.

The truth is, we could have chosen to do “The Saratoga 100” there are so many worthy candidates; but, in the end, to honor our 20th birthday, we narrowed our select list to the extraordinary individuals that follow.

—Richard Pérez-Feria, Editor in Chief

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Queen Elizabeth

ELIZABETH SOBOL reigns over Saratoga’s cultural landscape.

You could say that Elizabeth Sobol, the President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, is finally home. After growing up in Kannapolis, NC, and attending college in nearby Winston-Salem, then splitting time between Manhattan and Miami Beach—where she held management positions at IMG Artists and Universal Music Group—Sobol fell hard for Saratoga Springs the first time she set foot here—and the adoration hasn’t waned in the two years since she and her husband, Jorge Gómez, a Grammy-nominated Cuban bandleader, put down roots here. Whether it be launching the immersive “SPAC on Stage” series, which brings audience members within feet of performing artists, or landing the Cuban National Ballet this summer (SPAC is just one of four venues in North America to do so), Sobol has helped transform Saratoga from a horse racing-centric town to one that takes its arts and entertainment very seriously. Below, find out why Saratogians are taking notice that this creative force of nature loves it right where she is. Lucky us.

On Her Introduction To Saratoga My husband and I had an apartment in Miami Beach after I left Universal, and I was planning on taking some time off. I was three days into it when the phone rang and this person said, “We’re conducting the search for the new president of SPAC, and your name keeps coming up.” I said, “I’m going to go out on my balcony here in Miami Beach and describe the view to you, and you’re going to tell me why in the world I would move to Saratoga Springs.” They convinced me to come up there, where I’d never been before—this after all these years of running a talent agency and a record company, and having many artists play at SPAC. I came up in early June 2016, knowing and expecting nothing. I walked into town and saw the Lyrical Ballad and Northshire Bookstores, I had an amazing meal at Mio Posto and walked past Congress Park. By the time I got back to my hotel, I had this presentiment that I’d experienced everything in this small city that made me happy. The next day, I met the SPAC board—these amazing, caring, passionate, intelligent, dedicated people who loved Saratoga and SPAC, and they completely blew me away. By the end of that trip, my mind was spinning with ideas and possibilities. And then when they brought me back up for a second interview and basically told me that they were going to offer me the job, I was taken for a more in-depth tour of the Spa State Park, saw the Hall of Springs and the Jazz Bar, the National Museum of Dance, the Automobile Museum, the mineral springs and I was besotted.

On What Makes Saratoga So Special People who grow up here know how magical it is, but the minute you get outside of Saratoga, most people don’t have a clue. I’d spent all those years working in Manhattan in the music and culture business, and every summer, I’d end up going to the Berkshires—even though I don’t particularly like the Berkshires. Now, when I pitch Saratoga to people who don’t know it—the same way that I didn’t know it—I talk to them about the best-in-class venue that has the DNA of Eugene Ormandy and George Balanchine in it, in a 24,000-acre park that spans from these incredible architectural beauties from the ’20s and ’30s to these exquisite woodland walks to curative mineral springs adjacent to a culturally vibrant, amazing, small downtown with lots of beautiful buildings and green space—and it’s 45 minutes from 6 million acres of Adirondack parkland and 32 miles of Lake George, all on a train line from New York City. People don’t realize that there’s literally nothing else like this in North America. It just doesn’t exist anyplace else.

On Her Personal Playlist There’s very little that most people will recognize on it. If I’m listening to vocalists, I’m probably listening to either somebody like Joni Mitchell or some of the young crop of female singer-songwriters like Becca Stevens or Michelle Willis. I tend to listen to a lot of world music. In the morning, I listen to Indian or Middle Eastern music, and in the daytime, I listen to that group of composer-performers who create hypnotic, pattern-based music like Oliver Arnold, Max Richter, Steve Reich or Philip Glass. I love Cuban and Celtic music. Probably my favorite band to listen to right now is Darlingside.

On Her Best Quality As An Executive And Manager When I was studying piano, I had a teacher who was a literature person, and he always quoted E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End. The quote begins: “Only connect.” That phrase has really been the inspiration for my whole professional life. I see connections where they’re not necessarily obvious. I love doing that, and I think I do it well.

—Will Levith

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Georgie Nugent

Claim To Fame: Member of the NYRA and CDTA boards

On Saratoga: “Saratoga’s a culmination of individuals with institutional knowledge of how we got to where we are now, and a diverse group of individuals who are forward-thinking and wanting to grow in a manner that’s consistent with our vision.”

She Says: “I used to live by the C.S. Lewis quote: ‘Integrity is doing what’s right when no one is watching.’ But over the past few years, being on the NYRA board, and with the #MeToo movement, and everything that’s going on where more people are being outspoken, there’s another quote—Evil befalls the world when no one speaks up; when the time is right, you need to be heard—that, I think, is paramount, especially nowadays.”

Georgie Nugent is Saratoga. She’s poised, thoughtful, humble, generous—and, naturally, was wearing an impressive horse necklace when she showed up for her photo shoot. By day, she’s a business development manager, with an advanced degree in Environmental Science and Engineering. She doubles as a member of the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) boards. She’s described herself as American by birth, Canadian by upbringing, Swiss and horse racing fan by blood.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Cory Nelson

Claim To Fame: Owner of Troy Kitchen

On Saratoga: “In five years, Saratoga Springs will add more fast-casual food options.”

He Says: “I’m usually at the food court meeting a lot of people and making sure everybody’s having a good time.”

If you’re interested in opening a restaurant but not quite ready to commit to a brick-and-mortar location, look no further than Troy Kitchen, a food court, bar/lounge and entertainment venue in a 7000-square-foot building in Downtown Troy. “It’s essentially a business incubator to help small restaurants get their start,” says Cory Nelson, owner of Troy Kitchen. “We help them grow their business into a standalone location.” Nelson, a Brooklyn transplant, opened Troy Kitchen in April 2016, and it has quickly become an affordable takeout, delivery or eat-in option for college students, locals and day-trippers. (There are DJ/dance nights with drink specials, too.) Troy Kitchen’s current lineup of food vendors represents a wide swath of the world: There are Middle Eastern, Jamaican and Mexican food stalls. But does the incubator concept work? Yes. Just ask Troy Kitchen veterans K-Plate Korean BBQ and Bespoki Bowl, which now have their own locations in Downtown Troy.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Stephanie Collins

Claim To Fame: Philanthropist

On Saratoga: “Only in Saratoga Springs can you actually pet a horse at Starbucks.”

She Says: “I’ve never been in another town where there are so many people willing to give back to their community.”

What nonprofit in Saratoga hasn’t been impacted by the generosity of Stephanie Collins? The reserved yet poised stay-at-home mom serves on the boards of Wellspring and the Incredible Teddy Foundation, while also sitting on the Saratoga Hospital Annual Summer Gala and Jake’s Help From Heaven planning committees. A teacher by trade, Collins most recently taught at Shenendehowa High School, before becoming a full-time mom. “Growing up, my parents were always volunteers, whether it be at our church or through our schools or coaching,” Collins says. “It was never a thought. When I had the chance to volunteer, I did it.”

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Jacob Hopper

Claim To Fame: Founder and Publisher of ExploreSaratoga.com

On Saratoga: “Only in Saratoga do you find multimillionaires and billionaires walking side-by-side with the guy from down the street in his shorts and flip-flops. It’s a really unique experience.”

He Says: “It’s my mission to highlight the best of Saratoga, for locals and visitors alike, in an interesting and beautiful way.”

Jacob Hopper wears two hats, both in the media world. He runs Modern Mix Marketing, a video production business, and is the Founder and Publisher of ExploreSaratoga.com, a website that curates the best things to do in and around Saratoga Springs. We can’t help but think Hopper’s cut from the same cloth as saratoga living: “I’m committed to producing the best lifestyle and tourism content Saratoga has ever seen,” he says. “People love what we’ve been doing with ExploreSaratoga.com, which is incredibly encouraging.”

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Brian Straughter

Claim To Fame: President of Turf Hotels and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

On Saratoga: “Saratoga’s easily the best community in Upstate New York.”

He Says: “I’m always willing to jump in and help my team in any way possible.”

It’s been a busy couple of years for Brian Straughter, the quick-to-laugh husband, father and Saratoga Springs’ man of the people. Last September, he was named President of Turf Hotels, which manages five hotels in the Capital Region, including the Hampton Inn & Suites in Saratoga. And this past January, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce named him its new Chair of the Board of Directors. “I live in Downtown Saratoga, so I enjoy being able to walk to the local restaurants and retail shops,” he says. But maybe his most important role is the one he gave himself: He and his wife cofounded Jake’s Help From Heaven—a local nonprofit that assists children and their families affected by debilitating illnesses—following the tragic death of their son, Jake, in 2010.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Lizzie Hunter

Claim To Fame: Senior Community Development Manager at the American Cancer Society

On Saratoga: “It never ceases to amaze me how everyone in Saratoga comes together to make a difference.”

She Says: “I love my job because I get to go to work every day knowing that I’m making a difference. I love working with all of our volunteers and donors, many of whom have become friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. Oh, and planning parties with the sole purpose of having fun and raising money to fight cancer? That’s not so bad either!”

If you haven’t been to an event put on by Lizzie Hunter, you need to. They’re spectacular. As is she. Hunter’s the woman behind the celebrated galas for the American Cancer Society (ACS), and it’s clear that it’s not just any old job to her: “It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for ACS,” she says. “I’ve met so many people—survivors, caregivers, community leaders and enthusiastic children—who’ll never know how much they inspired me to do more.” When you throw amazing parties that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for an organization that does so much good, how much more is there really to do?

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

The Saratoga Kid

TJ TRACY, high school student of the decade.

After chatting with TJ Tracy, all you can say is “wow.” He’s one of very few high school juniors who seemingly has life all figured out. He’s self-aware, well-spoken, extremely grateful and unbelievably generous. Tracy founded his first nonprofit—TJ’s Turkeys, which provides local families in need with holiday meals—when he was nine. Nine! And earlier this year, he started SERV, a corporate start-up that runs errands for people who can’t easily get out and do them (a sort of Task Rabbit for Saratoga). What were you doing at 17?

On Saratoga’s Uniqueness Only in Saratoga can you find a perfect balance of everything. I feel like Saratoga has everything anyone could really need. Growing up in Saratoga has been an incredible experience, and I’ve loved every moment of it. Our downtown area is priceless and being able to hang out with friends downtown has been really fun. To be able to become a part of the community has been such an honor for me, and the generosity of the Saratoga residents has been overwhelming. Only in Saratoga are you going to find so many people who want to be a part of the community and who really want to be here because they love it. That’s really shown with the growth of TJ’s Turkeys and how generous the community has been in getting involved with our efforts.

On What He’s Most Passionate About I do what I love better than anyone in Saratoga. I feel like a lot of people have this ideology that you can’t really do what you love as a kid, but I’ve been able to find what I’m most passionate about. I’ve been able to really do what I love to do and that’s a really big part of TJ’s Turkeys: kids helping kids. We’re here to prove that just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do what you’re passionate about and you can’t start taking steps in the direction of what you really love to do.

On Saratoga’s Next Five Years Saratoga will be a city everyone’s talking about, because of the way it has been growing, even in the past few years. Just from my perspective, it’s so much fun seeing bigger and bigger names coming to SPAC—even just things like that. And even little things like getting more burger places, which is really convenient for me, because I don’t have to drive to Five Guys. Saratoga has been heading in the right direction. It’s already a place that everyone’s talking about, but will become even more so in the next five years.

On Saratoga’s Greatest Asset Saratoga is involved. I’ve grown up with my mom [interior designer Beverly Tracy] always attending charitable events in this community where everyone is always out and involved and really wants to be here. And I feel like that’s led to such an involved community and downtown area. Driving downtown on a Saturday night, you can see how buzzing it is. Yeah, Saratoga is involved.

—Natalie Moore

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Francine Vero

Claim To Fame: Saratoga Springs City Court Judge

On Saratoga: “In five years, Saratoga Springs will continue to grow. I think it will continue to provide a great sense of community for the people and younger generations to come, and hopefully attract more people and a diverse population to this area.”

She Says: “When I first moved here, I was a lawyer and became very active in the Women’s Bar Association, at first, just to get to know other local lawyers, but also to be a part of this community and be a part of the local bar. And it’s given back so much.”

Francine Vero is the first woman to serve as City Court Judge in Saratoga Springs. Appointed to the position by former Saratoga Mayor Joanne Yepsen in December 2016, she successfully ran for reelection the following year. In her time on the bench, she’s made her presence felt, presiding over everything from eviction proceedings to cases of domestic violence—a topic she’s worked tirelessly on throughout her career. “I truly believe that I wouldn’t have been appointed and ultimately elected judge if it wasn’t for my connections in the community,” she says. “I’ve been active in the community not to further my career, but because I enjoy working with these people who are so devoted to the community and giving back.”

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Ken Rotondo

Claim To Fame: Founder and President of Mind Genomics Advisors

On Saratoga: “Only in Saratoga do you meet interesting, engaging people on a routine basis. I call it the SoHo of the Adirondacks.”

He Says: “I was somewhat bored in retirement—and had a veterinary degree and an MBA. I was fortunate to retire at a young enough age to know that I wanted to do something else. So I combined my business and medical backgrounds to form this new company.”

For most people, retirement means the end of the line, work-wise. For Ken Rotondo, it was just the beginning. After a successful career as a veterinarian, Rotondo went on to found Mind Genomics Advisors, a company that uses machine learning to identify consumer preferences. Located in Saratoga, Mind Genomics numbers industry leaders such as Amazon, Costco, IBM and H&R Block among its top clients. Speaking of Saratoga, Rotondo is the city’s self-described biggest fan: “I probably enjoy Saratoga more than anybody,” he says. “I enjoy the history, culture, track and people.” And for the haters? Says Rotondo: “If you can’t enjoy Saratoga, I don’t think there’s anyplace you can enjoy.”

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Tim Pink (and Bluff)

Claim To Fame: Owner of Saratoga Dog Walkers

On Saratoga: “Only in Saratoga Springs would you have a dog guy being featured in a magazine in a horse city.”

He Says: “I walk packs of dogs better than anyone else in Saratoga.”

If you live in the Capital Region and love dogs, you’re likely already obsessed with the Saratoga Dog Walkers Instagram account, @saratogadogwalkers. Heck, even if you’re not a dog lover, you’re bound to be entertained—or at least impressed—by the feats of owner Tim Pink, dog whisperer extraordinaire. Pink’s known for his uncanny ability to walk sizeable packs of dogs around Downtown Saratoga—and after making 20 or more sit perfectly still, their leashes on the ground, snap a group shot of the dogs. It’s amazing. And beautiful.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Chad Brown

Claim To Fame: Award-winning Thoroughbred trainer

On Saratoga: “In five years, Saratoga Springs will still maintain its historic charm, despite the ever-changing world we live in.”

He Says: “Of all the racetracks I go to, there’s no place that has a picnic area or backyard like Saratoga’s.”

In a little more than a decade, Mechanicville native Chad Brown has reached superstar status in the Capital Region as a Thoroughbred trainer—thanks, in large part, to his successes at Saratoga Race Course. During his first-ever run there in 2008, he won with the first horse he entered in the first race on opening day. Eight years later, at 37, he took home Saratoga’s Top Trainer title, logging his 1000th win there. The same year, he also won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita. He’d end up winning a 2016 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer—and since then, he’s stayed hot, winning the 2017 Preakness and just missing the Winner’s Circle at this year’s Kentucky Derby, with runner-up (and saratoga living pick) Good Magic.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Tracey Buyce

Claim To Fame: Professional photographer

On Saratoga: “I make a fool of myself to put my clients at ease better than anyone else in Saratoga.”

She Says: “I think my connection to people and animals drives my business. I have a horse and two dogs, so I’m a huge animal lover, and I’d say that a majority of my clients have animals. I think what you put out to the world is what you get back. I’m also a big believer in paying it forward. If you have a skill or talent, I think it’s your duty to give back to others.”

Photographer Tracey Buyce’s website has two photos on its home page: one of a woman riding a horse through a beautiful field, and the other, a bride and groom grimacing because the chicken they’re holding is trying to make a run for it. It’s not exactly the photo most people would frame on their mantel, but it’s hilarious. It’s a testament to Buyce’s sense of humor and love of animals. When she’s not photographing weddings, engagements and families, Buyce volunteers for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, where she takes “glamour shots” of retired racehorses to help them get adopted.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Iron Mike

MIKE PHINNEY, Saratoga’s master architect, is changing the game.

Sustainable architecture. Green building. Environmentally friendly design. These aren’t the first phrases that spring to mind while admiring the hulking, turn-of-the-century mansions that line North Broadway in Saratoga Springs. But one local architect wants to change that; he’s revolutionizing the way the Spa City and its residents look at architecture and design, and he’s doing it one passion project at a time.

Meet Mike Phinney, principal architect at Saratoga’s Phinney Design Group. Born in Glens Falls and a graduate of Lake George High School, Phinney attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s (RPI) prestigious five-year architecture program. At RPI in the mid-1990s, Phinney was ahead of his time in his field, writing his thesis on and becoming passionate about green building. After graduating, he got his big break at the age of 27, when a former boss contacted him about a high-profile green building project in Albany. “I was made project designer and eventually, project architect, for a new headquarters for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which is the large building on Broadway against the river in Albany, with the green glass dome on top,” he says. “That became the first certified green building in New York State. That was a milestone moment for me.”

Nowadays, he runs the multiple-award-winning Phinney Design Group, which has put its Midas touch on innumerable iconic locations, historic and modern, in Saratoga and beyond. The firm has completed projects for the Saratoga Race Course, Yaddo, The Gideon Putnam, The Sagamore Hotel and Resort and Mohonk Mountain House. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The firm also does offices and houses—Phinney built his family’s own green home from the ground up just outside of Saratoga in Greenfield—and Phinney’s particularly passionate about old buildings and adaptive reuse and historic preservation. He’s just what “the new” Saratoga needs. And he’s on the Saratoga 20 because of it.

On Why He’s Not A Fan Of Big Egos Especially when it comes to design and construction, egos get in the way. When I was doing a big project early on, there was an issue, and being a young guy, I was like, “This is a big problem!” This guy pulled me aside and said, “Listen, Mike, I really appreciate what you’re doing here and your passion, but there’s no such thing as problems. They’re just situations that aren’t resolved yet.” That struck a chord with me. This is not a perfect process; you’re dealing with hundreds of people and weather and things happen, and if you don’t create a team mentality, you’re going to create issues. One of the things I’ve learned working in architecture for 25 years is that nothing ever goes perfectly. We have a philosophy at the design firm that the best ideas rise to the surface. Even interns, with very limited experience, get to work on projects and be in meetings and voice their opinions. It’s welcomed.

On Saratoga’s Top-Notch Architectural Profile I think Saratoga’s much more advanced than most small cities. The land-use boards and the fact that they have a Design Review Commission—those things are really great. It also has a really active preservation foundation. I think it balances well with honoring the past and embracing the future. I’d like to see greater diversity in the architecture, and more examples of modern architecture, where possible, but I think in general, the city tends to be conservative, which is not a bad thing. As an architect, it’s easy to critique things, but you want to strike that balance where you’re not messing up the historic fabric too much, but at the same time, expanding and being innovative.

On Why Saratoga’s A City Of Big Thinkers I think the city’s always been full of people with big ideas, such as Jim Morrissey and the Canfield Casino, and even C.V. Whitney with his purchase of the track, and expanding it, and then all the grand hotels that used to be here. The largest hotels in the world were here. There were always these big thinkers and visionaries that did big projects, and it’s interesting to see now that people are so afraid to add or change anything, and it’s like, well, some of the largest and most incredible things that were here are actually lost now. The Grand Union Hotel and The United States Hotel had massive ballrooms and meeting spaces. These were Renaissance men—the golden age of the Victorian Age, and they weren’t afraid to think big, and I think Saratoga needs to think big again.

—Will Levith

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Patti Petrosino

Claim To Fame: General Manager of Osteria Danny

On Saratoga: “Only in Saratoga Springs is it the weekend every day.”

She Says: “I do love to talk.”

For being the Hostess/General/Manager/Receptionist/Bookkeeper of an authentic Italian restaurant, Patti Petrosino’s style is markedly rock ’n’ roll. In her zippered black leather jacket, she almost gives off a Patti Smith vibe—if Patti Smith smiled more. Petrosino and her husband, Danny, own Osteria Danny on Henry Street in Saratoga Springs—Danny runs the kitchen, Patti runs everything else. The restaurant’s about as close to Italy as you’ll get in Saratoga, with small tables crowded together, unbelievable food and Patti, the Italian mom everyone needs in their life, making you feel right at home.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Mike Raymond

Claim To Fame: Chief Financial Officer of Prime Companies

On Saratoga: “For me, Saratoga’s a great escape, when contrasted with Albany and the rest of the Capital Region. I think that serves as a huge asset to and selling point for Saratoga.”

He Says: “As the CFO of Prime Companies, which owns the Pavilion Grand and Fresh Market, I just crunch numbers all day. The instrumental people were really our partners, who envisioned what Saratoga would become.”

Prime Companies checks a lot of boxes: residential and commercial real estate development, brokerage and property management. (They own and manage Saratoga staples such as the Pavilion Grand Hotel and The Fresh Market.) Enter its Chief Financial Officer, Mike Raymond. Though working mostly behind the scenes, Mike’s most certainly instrumental in everything big that happens at Prime. Just don’t tell him that. He’s quick to give credit to others who’ve played a role in the success of Prime Companies and the development of Saratoga and the Capital Region. Mike wears humility very well indeed.

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(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Sue Kerber

Claim To Fame: Owner and Cofounder of Rad Soap Co.

On Saratoga: “Saratoga is full of adventure. You can meet people here from all around the world. I don’t think there are a lot of places besides major cities where you can do that.”

She Says: “I make the best soap in the world.”

Sue Kerber lights up any room she walks into. Her bubbly personality is infectious, and even if you’re meeting her for the first time, you feel like you’ve known her forever. Kerber is the owner of the Rad Soap Co., which she and her sons cofounded in Cohoes in 2009. It all started when Kerber sought out an organic treatment for her son’s eczema. Nine years later, the company’s products are sold in more than 180 locations across the country, including a Rad Soap storefront in Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany and Healthy Living Market & Café in Wilton, which Kerber says is one of their top retail locations. To get a sense of the type of person Kerber is, all you need to do is listen to her voicemail, which ends: “Have a Rad day!”

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Elise Stefanik

Claim To Fame: Member of the US House of Representatives from New York’s 21st Congressional District (and the youngest Congresswoman ever elected)

On Saratoga: “Saratoga Springs is the place I got married, so it’s very special to me.”

She Says: “I feel very confident going into the midterm elections this November. I’ll always outwork my opponents. When I first ran for Congress, I logged 100,000 miles driving around this district in a year and a half. I have a very strong record of delivering results.”

When Albany native Elise Stefanik ran for Congress in 2014, she had no idea that, if elected, she’d become the youngest woman ever elected at the age of 30. She won, of course, and has been representing New York’s 21st Congressional District—the state’s largest, which includes parts of Saratoga County—for the last four years. Stefanik (R-NY) tells us that some of her fondest childhood memories are of summers in Saratoga with her family. Up for reelection this November, the Republican Congresswoman sees herself as part of a new, younger generation of legislators, one that isn’t afraid to teach her congressional elders how to use Instagram—or cross the aisle. Says Rep. Stefanik: “Regardless of where one is on the political spectrum, I think both parties agree that we need more people working together to deliver results for the American public.”

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(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Teddy Foster

Claim To Fame: Campaign Director for Universal Preservation Hall

On Saratoga: “Saratoga is the best place in the world to live. I’m thrilled to live here. I raised my sons here, and it was a wonderful place for them to grow up.”

She Says: “I bring people together. I connect people.”

If you’ve been to a social event in Saratoga Springs, chances are you’ve crossed paths with Teddy Foster. She’s everywhere, greeting everyone and just having a genuinely good time. As Campaign Director for Universal Preservation Hall (UPH), a performing arts education and entertainment venue located in a historic church on Washington Street, Foster’s been tasked with raising $5.5 million for the renovation of the facility. Though Foster’s job requires her to be all-in about UPH, you can tell her enthusiasm isn’t just an act: It’s real passion.

Saratoga 20
(Dori Fitzpatrick)

Brandon Drellos

Claim To Fame: Co-owner of Caroline Street Pub and The Horseshoe Inn

On Saratoga: “Only in Saratoga Springs can you find a music venue, racetrack, bars and restaurants, all in walking distance from one another.”

He Says: “I wear flannels and bathing suits better than anyone else in Saratoga.”

“I would like you to know that I am a blue-eyed sweetheart.” That’s what Brandon Drellos—the hilarious, charming, flannel-wearing, bushy-bearded co-owner of Caroline Street Pub and The Horseshoe Inn has to say moments after greeting us. This tidbit, of course, came after a several-minute-long monologue about how he makes the best bombs—vodka bombs, that is. Clearly, a day in the life of Drellos is all jokes, all the time, especially when he’s behind the bar. But underneath Drellos’ larger-than-life personality, there’s some real, palpable, intoxicating charm. Count us smitten.

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