Jason Golub has just crushed his first two weeks as Commissioner of Public Works. After being unanimously chosen by a special committee, the announcement of his appointment thrust him into the public eye, a fit for even the most devout of extroverts. Add in his open-door policy and we bet his schedule has never been busier. “It’s been a whirlwind!” confirms the lawyer. “I met as many people as possible. I want the community to know that I am here to listen to them. In the next breath, Golub lays out – in impressive detail – some of his own ideas for his new role and new department, before pausing and apologizing, “I’m excited about it.” Don’t slow down on our behalf, Commissioner.
Q: Tell me a bit about your qualifications that led to your appointment.
A: First, there is my ability to manage daily life. I have relevant experience for municipal government management – successfully navigated crisis and high stress situations. You have to look at the city as a whole, both at the Department of Public Works and at the City Council. It’s the one that some people miss, that you have to do both at the same time.
Q: Your name is not completely new to the local government scene.
A: My first exposure to city politics was as co-chair of the Saratoga Police Reform Task Force, which was mandated for each city by the governor in light of George Floyd in 2020. We did our recommendations to City Council in March 2021, and I stayed on to serve on the Civil Review Committee. I briefly considered running for mayor, but now was not the time. After the unfortunate death of Skip [Scirocco]I raised my hand.
Q: Yes, the passing of your predecessor, the beloved Skip Scirroco, is what necessitated the special election. I’m sure you’ve heard “big shoes to fill” a million times. How does that make you feel?
A: It makes my job even more important. He held this position for 14 years and did great things. I just hope I can build on that. I’m going to continue what he started, and I hope people know I support them.
Q: What are your plans for the Department of Public Works?
A: I want us to be more comfortable with digital to increase transparency. We should take advantage of technological communication in our community and with our community. We need to do a better job with updates when it comes to things like snow removal. Even if it’s delayed, at least getting a text message about the delay is helpful. And we don’t have municipal recycling, so there’s no recycling on Broadway or in city buildings. We are a progressive city that does not recycle; we need recycling. I have a million ideas, but these are key areas where we want to innovate.
Q: Some Saratog residents are afraid of the word “innovation” applied to our city.
A: You can both innovate and preserve what is unique in our community. They are not mutually exclusive.
Q: Tell me some other longer term goals.
A: Adding more playgrounds — I have two kids — and green space is important to me. The city center in particular could be more family friendly. Are we adding a playground downtown? Ice skating at Congress Park in the winter? It’s a family town, but there aren’t many activities. I would also like to improve the city’s supplier diversity to consider more locally owned and women-owned businesses.
Q: You are Saratoga’s very first black commissioner. What do you think about this?
A: I would like to be known as a successful curator who also happens to be black, not the other way around. The only place it’s relevant is with the next generation who might be thinking, “What can I accomplish in this town being black? I want my 9 year old daughter to see it and think, ‘I can do this.
Q: Final thoughts on what you hope to accomplish?
A: I want the community to get involved with DPW. I want them to feel they can offer me ideas. I want Saratoga to evolve as a 20th century city that respects what makes it special.