Bethlehem Town Supervisor Sam Messina speaks at the groundbreaking Dec. 15 for the Vista Technology Campus.
Photo by Charles Wiff.
After one term highlighted by clashes with the Town Board, a lively debate over a golf course and progress on the town’s largest economic development project in years, Bethlehem Supervisor Sam Messina can still remember the reasons why he ran for the town’s top spot in the first place.
Messina, who defeated incumbent Jack Cunningham in 2009, said he wanted to focus on fiscal accountability, the quality of life in Bethlehem and the way town officials carried themselves, with the mission of doing what’s best for the town.
“I don’t really think I had a plan on how it would go,” Messina said while sitting in his Town Hall office. “I did have a plan on my vision of what I would try to do in government here in Bethlehem and where I wanted to try to guide the town.”
A tough retirement call
Messina said the toughest decision he made as supervisor was to bow out of a reelection bid in 2011. A member of the Independence Party, Messina said he wanted to run again but probably would’ve needed the support of one of the two major parties.
“I pushed back a machine in the Democratic Party pretty hard when I ran for supervisor (in 2009), and those things aren’t soon forgotten,” said Messina. “I knew what I was doing, and I needed to push back because we didn’t need politics as usual in Bethlehem. There’s one major party I wasn’t going to get.”
Messina said he was surprised to not receive the support of the Republican Party, which chose instead to support Councilman Kyle Kotary in his bid for supervisor. He did, however, believe he could win with the endorsements he received from the Working Families and Conservative parties.
“That is a very long, grueling, very expensive proposition,” said Messina of the possibility of another run. “Mostly it’s grueling on the candidate’s family, on the volunteers that you ask to be with you. I had not had an easy two years on the Town Board, so it was a tough decision, but I talked with my confidant on these matters, and that’s (Deputy Supervisor) John Smolinsky, and said I would not run.”