New faces in powerful positions

Major changes are on the way to the Bethlehem Town Board, as new faces will be in place at a time when many believe the town is ready to make a name for itself in the Capital District and statewide.

Supervisor-elect John Clarkson won a decisive victory in the Nov. 8 elections. He’ll replace Sam Messina, who will exit after one term atop town government.

Clarkson is a Slingerlands resident who worked for the New York State Division of the Budget. He chaired the Lundine Commission on Local Efficiency, which examined ways that states could look at shared services and consolidation their operations.

“The voters are excited,” said Clarkson on election night. “I’m excited, and I think we can really make some progress here.”

Clarkson will be joined by another new face. Democrat Jeffrey Kuhn won a seat on the board, finishing first out of four candidates for two seats. Incumbent Joann Dawson won another term in office.

Along with Kuhn and Dawson, Clarkson will have to work with one of the men he defeated on election night. Board member Kyle Kotary, who lost in the September Democratic primary to Clarkson, ran on the Republican and Independence lines in the general election. Clarkson also ran on the Conservative line.

The two have had cordial conversations in public at events around Bethlehem, including at a debate held Oct. 24, sponsored by The Spotlight and League of Women Voters. Kotary was positive in his comments about Clarkson and others during a board meeting a day after the election.

“I’m glad that Joann will be back on the board,” said Kotary. “I look forward to working with John next year, and Jeff as well. I want to congratulate John and say ‘welcome.’”

Kuhn, who will fill the seat vacated by Mark Hennessey, who did not run for reelection, said that while three Democrats were elected, party affiliations will have little to do with how the board functions.

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