BETHLEHEM 12 candidates for office put their platforms on display on Monday, Oct. 24, during a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Albany County and The Spotlight.
Perhaps the most intriguing race involves four candidates vying for two spots on the Bethlehem Town Board. They include the sole incumbent, Democrat Joann Dawson, Democrat Jeffrey Kuhn and Republicans Jeremy Martelle and Jeremy Near.
The candidates were asked how they would invigorate economic development in the town.
“It’s important to remember that we have a strong network of existing businesses in this town,” said Dawson, who talked about how past development gave away some of the quality that town residents have come to expect while living in Bethlehem.
Kuhn pointed to two projects: the Vista development off Route 85 and the need for development at the Selkirk Rail Yards.
“Both those projects for whatever reason have gone sideways over the past several years,” said Kuhn, who expressed some optimism regarding movement on financing for the Vista campus.
Near then painted a picture that wasn’t as rosy.
“Unfortunately for Bethlehem, the truth is that the town is regionally known as anti-business. That’s not because of residents in the town, but it is because of town hall, and a lot of red tape and bureaucracy,” said Near.
Martelle said re-examining the town’s comprehensive plan would be a good start, an idea that received plenty of support among candidates throughout the debates.
“We need to prepare for that next growth period,” said Martelle, who spoke about tax-exempt businesses in the town. “Right now, we are shouldering the brunt of the taxes, the citizens of this community.”
Bethlehem Town Board debate
Candidates for Bethlehem Town Board met Monday, Oct. 24, to debate in a forum hosted by The Spotlight, The Albany County League of Women Voters and the Capital Area Council of Churches. Jeremy Near, Jeremy Martelle, Joann Dawson and Jeffrey Kuhn fielded questions submitted by the audience.
The candidates shared varying opinions on the need for a plan to protect open space. Near said the town’s comprehensive plan needs to be shredded, while Martelle said the plan should be revisited. Kuhn was concerned with proposals to implement an open space tax, while Dawson said that an open space program doesn’t necessarily mean that the town is going to spend millions on land acquisition.