Editor, The Spotlight:
I am writing to urge voters in the Town of Bethlehem to follow closely the selection of someone to fill the vacancy on the Town Board and to remind all of us of the excitement earlier in the year when we learned that we would have a real choice for the position of Supervisor, and not just one candidate cross-endorsed by the two major political parties.. The campaign for Supervisor proved that the citizens of Bethlehem value choice and appreciate the opportunity to select a competent citizen who is not an officer in a political party.
As Bethlehem residents talk among ourselves, I recommend that we try – through an informal civic engagement process – to agree on criteria and to share those with current Board members. I am personally going to recommend that we ask current Town Board members:
-- To select a candidate who will pledge to serve only one year in order to create an open seat when the Town Board Member election is held in 2012.
-- To ask each Town Board candidate if he or she has a connection with any other town or municipality. If so, would the potential Board member refuse to vote on any grant application for which both municipalities were competing?
-- To report if the candidate has a political party position and to declare how such a position might affect his or her thinking on issues before the Town Board and whether he or she might ever try to use that political party position to sway other board members.
-- To have an open public Forum at which all candidates may speak before a final selection is made.
Whenever town residents gather in the next few weeks – the farewell to Supervisor Messina on December 29, the swearing-in of newly elected officials on January 2, and the first meeting of the 2012 Town Board on January 11 at 6 p.m. when the issue will be addressed. , I hope we will be discussing our criteria and sharing them with the Town Board members who will choose an interim Town Board member.