The four men vying for two seats on the Bethlehem Town Board appeared for a public debate Thursday, Oct. 29, and covered a wide range of topics from general governance philosophy to sidewalks.
Democrats Mark Jordan and Kyle Kotary (an incumbent) and Republicans Fred Di Maggio and John Flanagan took to the podium at the debate, which was sponsored by Spotlight Newspapers and the Albany County League of Women Voters and took place at Bethlehem Town Hall. In addition to opening and closing statements by each candidate, moderator and Spotlight Managing Editor Bill DeVoe read questions provided by the audience, to which each candidate had a chance to respond.
While those questions covered a wide range of ground, the budget and fiscal management came to the forefront on several occasions.
Di Maggio wasted little time in throwing his support behind the Republican candidate for supervisor, Sam Messina's, plan to hold the 2010 tax hike to zero percent.
I can't tell you how many people have complained to me bitterly about the cost of living here, he said.
Jordan immediately countered that point by saying the town must focus on maintaining its services.
"People move here to raise a family, they stay here because of the municipal services," he said. "I want to hold the line on taxes but not at the cost of town services."
Kotary said that the proposed budget being considered now, which calls for a 2 percent tax hike, is fairly conservative and already cuts $1 million. He also said the quality of service in Bethlehem is tantamount to the town's success.
"The notion that we've done it at a higher cost is false. We've done more with less," he said.
Flanagan said that there are places to cut the budget, and argued against a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for town employees.