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Bethlehem Dems drop incumbent councilman

The Bethlehem Democratic Committee made its picks for the 2009 elections as expected with one notable exception Independence Councilman Sam Messina wasn't on the list.

The town's full committee voted on Tuesday, April 7, to endorse Supervisor Jack Cunningham, who is on the party's executive committee, for re-election, as well as Democratic Councilman Kyle Kotary who is running for a second term. The executive committee interviews potential candidates and then makes a recommendation for the full committee to vote on.

However, the party opted to endorse Bethlehem's new Independence Party Chairman Mark Jordan over Kotary's former running mate, Messina, whom Democrats cross endorsed for councilman in 2005. Jordan is chief of staff to Bethlehem Assemblyman Tim Gordon of the 108th District, the state's only Independence Party assemblyman and the party's former chairman. Gordon also started his political career as a Bethlehem councilman.

Jordan took over the reins as party chair from Gordon over the winter.

This is my first time running for anything," Jordan said about his Democratic nomination. "I'm very grateful to the Democratic town committee for putting their trust in me."

Messina said he is in "assessment mode," and that he has to think it over and then talk it over with family and friends before he makes a decision about running for re-election.

"I was not surprised, I was disappointed," said Messina about losing the endorsement. "For the last four years I did the best I could for the Town of Bethlehem. During Terry's [Eagan] tenure and after, I did everything I could about openness and bringing about transparency."

Concluding, he said, "It has not gone over well."

Without a major political-party backing he would have to force a primary through petition or seek a third-party nomination, such as his own party. Messina will now be vying with his party's chairman, Jordan, and his former running mate and current colleague, Kotary, for his seat on the Bethlehem Town Board and a nod from the Independence Party.

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