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Spotlight, League to host Bethlehem primary debate

Bethlehem Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham and his potential challenger, Town Councilman Sam Messina, have accepted an invitation to participate in a public debate prior to the Sept. 15 primary election.

The League of Women Voters of Albany County and The Spotlight are sponsoring the debate. The date, location and format of the debate will be confirmed after designating petitions are authorized on July 20.

Cunningham said he was excited at having the opportunity to debate, and in accepting the invitation said, I'd be more than happy to discuss the issues at any time.

His challenger, Town Councilman and Independence Party member Sam Messina also said he is looking forward to the event.

"Debates are a great opportunity for the public to see first-hand what the candidates are about," said Messina. "I'm looking forward to it."

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan citizen activist organization that operates at the local, state and national level. The League was formed more than 80 years ago as part of the legacy of the woman's suffrage movement. Today, the League represents more than 90,000 women and men.

"Within recent memory there hasn't been this opportunity for the people of the Town of Bethlehem to hear directly from their candidates," said the League's voter services director, Mary Ann Lettau. "I'm very happy to be working with The Spotlight to bring this to fruition."

The Spotlight is working with the League to coordinate general election meet-the-candidate nights and debates as well, something Vice President and COO John McIntyre said is the epitome of the The Spotlight's mission to provide hyper-local coverage.

"This is a natural step in our efforts to shed light on the people and processes that affect our local readers," he said. "We look forward to a fair, honest and spirited debate, and hope to partner with the League of Women Voters for many more."

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