The first official steps to getting onto the September and November ballots were taken as Bethlehem candidates submitted their signed petitions to the Albany County Board of Elections.
The big race in town is for supervisor, as incumbent Democrat Jack Cunningham is seeking his second full term of office against a challenge from Independence Party Councilman Sam Messina.
The challenge includes an apparent Independence Party primary after Cunningham got the nod over Messina for his own party line. Both men have expressed confidence that they will win and add an extra ballot line for the fall election.
Thursday, July 16, was the deadline for submitting designating petitions to the county, and the final determinations on the number and validity of signatures by the board was expected Monday, July 20.
Cunningham contends that his unanimous support from the Albany County Independence Party over the party's own member reflects a solid record of his tenure in office and is a big vote of confidence that he is an effective and efficient public servant.
Albany County Democratic commissioner and Bethlehem Democratic Chairman Matthew Clyne said Cunningham turned in just over 500 Independence signatures and over 900 Democratic signatures on his petitions. Cunningham's campaign reported that he easily eclipsed his 2007 Independence signatures that totaled around 350 and said it was a sign his support has grown.
His slate handed in double the amount of Democratic signatures required by state election law.
Touching upon a major theme of his campaign, Messina said Cunningham's Independence nomination is just another example of insider politics and Bethlehem nees to end party governance.
The councilman handed in 299 Independence Party signatures to the board of elections, little more than half of Cunningham's, but Messina said he felt good about gathering more than four times the necessary signatures with only a fraction of the support system and organization of the incumbent.