Messina and Cunningham debate

Messina pointed out that candidates, and a person's "goals, vision, and public service" are often more important than their party affiliation and that independence does not just refer to party, but to ideology.

"Eighty-five percent of the issues we can agree upon, and the other 15 percent of the issues we can work together on," he said.

Cunningham took the stance that while the Independence Party challenges the status quo, it does not always work toward removing incumbents.

"I think we want to challenge incumbency, not eliminate them," he said. "My philosophy is very much in line with the Independence Party."

At one point, a question regarding allegations of racism in the town's police department and the how the supervisor should handle reappointing the police chief, got both candidates to acknowledge that some issues cannot be discussed publicly as they are considered "personnel matters."

However, Messina indicated that he wanted the board members to have been alerted sooner to Officer Chris Hughes' allegations of racism within the department (see related story, page 9). Cunningham said that the Town Board was advised at the appropriate time. Cunningham also expressed confidence in Bethlehem Chief of Police Lou Corsi.

"At no time have I ever seen any indication that racism exists in that police department," Cunningham said.

The two candidates also sparred over a proposed noise ordinance " an issue that has also been debated in surrounding communities such as Colonie in recent months.

Messina sat on a committee to study a noise ordinance, and put together a report on the matter.

"No issue in the past four years has generated as much interest as the noise ordinance because it's a quality of life issue," Messina said.

Cunningham said he is waiting on action from Colonie to move on any noise ordinance measures.

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