BALLSTON: Farm is scene of spirited discussion

In the picturesque setting of an open-air barn at Ellm's Family Farm that exemplifies the rural image of the town of Ballston, candidates for town board squared off in a Meet the Candidates night Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Hot issues included smart growth, traffic on Route 50 and Lakehill Road, open government, and of course, the Saratoga County water system.

Co-sponsored by the Saratoga County League of Women Voters and the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Business and Professional Association, the event drew a large crowd of about 75 people who listened intently as candidates answered questions submitted in advance.

The league never supports or opposes any candidates, we are non-partisan, said the group's president Barb Thomas. "I realize many people in this audience fiercely support their parties, but we ask that you use this forum in a positive way and eliminate purely personal attacks."

All the candidates complied with this request, while being clearly at odds on topics dominating town council meetings for months.

Town of Charlton Supervisor Alan Grattidge joked with the crowd that public service requires a "great tolerance for pain and suffering." Running unopposed, the popular supervisor listed his priorities as working the comprehensive plan, securing grants for farmland protection, and having the new town hall construction completed. The board fired the first contractor and brought in another company for emergency work to shore up the bare bones structure for winter.

Ballston Town Clerk Muriel Swatling, also unopposed, referred to her experience as clerk for 30 years, following in the footsteps of her father, who held the same position from 1941-1971.

Town of Ballston tax collector Anne Hogue made reference to her challenger, Democrat Peter Petrillose, who was not at the candidate's night.

"It's not a glamorous job, and to suggest, as my opponent has, that the tax collector has any say in the future budget in untrue," said Hogue. "I have brought the office into the 20th century by computerizing the system to handle the town's growth."

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