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Bethlehem Dems drop incumbent councilman

The two top highest vote getters will win the seats. So far, there are three candidates seeking board seats, but town Republican and third-party nominations have yet to be made. Bethlehem Republican Chairwoman Melody Burns said her full committee is expected to vote on a slate of candidates on April 21.

"I'm looking at our interested candidates and making sure they are well aware of the amount work and responsibilities of running for office," she said in an e-mail to The Spotlight.

The Bethlehem Democratic Party chairman is Matthew Clyne, who is also Albany County's Democratic commissioner of the board of elections and brother of former Albany County district attorney Paul Clyne.

Clyne, who along with Cunningham voted for Jordan, said he believed Messina had become a distraction on the board and didn't embody the Democrat's best interests and therefore was not suited for the party's nomination.

"I personally got tired of Sam Messina's grandstanding. He wasn't able to harmonize his views with the other board members," Clyne said. "We've had a good relationship with the Independence Party but we weren't prepared to give [Messina] a platform."

Messina has drawn the ire of the Democratic Party by confronting Cunningham about town appointments on numerous occasions, especially when they have consisted of Democratic committee members. Messina put forth an appointment proposal in 2008 that would have the town post jobs and committee openings and have non Civil Service appointees go through an interview and have predetermined qualifications.

The board voted it down 4-to-1, citing that it would add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and that town boards have the legal right and duty to make appointments.

The most recent confrontation occurred the day after Messina lost the Democratic nomination, during the Wednesday, April 8, town board meeting, over the appointment of William Burkard to the board of assessment review.

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