Second candidate in Bethlehem supervisor race

A second candidate has emerged in the race for Bethlehem town supervisor.

John Clarkson said today that he's circulating petitions to trigger a September primary for the Democratic line. Democrat and Town Board member Kyle Kotary has that party's endorsement for the office, as well as the Republican and Independence endorsements.

Clarkson said the recent news that Supervisor Sam Messina would not be making a re-election run, leaving Kotary as sole candidate, influenced his decision to start collecting signatures.

I think voters want and need a choice for supervisor, he said. "I think it would be very bad if we were to have a local election with no choice for that office."

He said he has been thinking about getting involved in local politics for some time, however, but his work in state government made it difficult. Clarkson was previously the executive director of the Commission on Local Government Efficiency, which was formed under the Spitzer administration and carried on into the Paterson years.

He also worked at the state comptroller's office at the assistant comptroller for local government. He now does work with the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress looking at ideas for reform in local government.

In Bethlehem, Clarkson is a member of the town's 20/20 Implementation Committee, heading up the subcommittee on Modernization and Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness of Town Government.

The committee recently released a report recommending that three elected department heads be appointed, and that the supervisor's term in office be extended. The report has been receiving mixed opinions at town meetings and the measures could potentially find their way on to the 2011 ballot for voter approval.

Clarkson said his primary focus thus far is on town finances. He said the town has for too long been dipping into savings to balance the budget.

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