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UPDATED: Bethlehem GOP backs Messina for supervisor

She said only one committee member voted against Messina because he wasn't a registered Republican.

"We voted to endorse Sam Messina for supervisor," Burns said. "There was some discussion on that, but we feel he's fiscally conservative, which is very important for us."

As for the delays in putting up Town Board candidates, Burns has said throughout the selection process that the committee was only seeking qualified and committed candidates and was not going to be rushed into "just filling a slate with names."

"We're really thinking carefully about who will get our endorsement," she said. "Whenever we endorse someone we want to make sure they are prepared and fully committed to serving the town and representing us."

Burns said they are making the announcements this week, however, in order to be able to begin gathering petition signatures.

"I'm very excited about the team we have right now with Sam, Gregg and Melanie, and we're looking forward to adding to the team by the end of week," said Burns.

If Messina is successful in his quest for supervisor, it would be the first return of a Republican-backed candidate to the Town Board since Democrats and Independence Party members took unanimous control in 2005. Democrats took a majority control of the board for the first time in memorable history in 2003 with the election of former Democratic supervisor Theresa Egan.

Messina said he has begun gathering Independence Party signatures to primary Cunningham for his party line. He needs to gather 5 percent of the 1,400 registered party members in town, or around 70 signatures.

"I'm getting very, very good feedback," Messina said of knocking on the doors of party members. "I don't have a political organization out there financing me ... but I am going door to door and people are supporting me."

Petitions signer can only sign the petition of one candidate " so Independence Party members will have to decide to either support Cunningham, a Democrat, or their own party member, Messina, for supervisor.

They can, however, sign the petition of other positions such as Town Board, town clerk, or highway superintendent. Multiple petition signatures is a common disqualification when it comes time to submit the petition to the county's board of elections.

For updates on this story, return to www.spotlightnews.com, or read the Wednesday, June 17, print edition of The Spotlight.

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