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Candidates debate economics, development of Bethlehem

Candidates for Supervisor in the Town of Bethlehem listen to instructions from Spotlight's Charles Wiff during an Oct. 24 debate sponsored by Spotlight and the League of Women Voters of Albany County.  Pictured from left to right: Kyle Kotary, John Clarkson, Wiff, and Richard Reeves-Ellington.

Candidates for Supervisor in the Town of Bethlehem listen to instructions from Spotlight's Charles Wiff during an Oct. 24 debate sponsored by Spotlight and the League of Women Voters of Albany County. Pictured from left to right: Kyle Kotary, John Clarkson, Wiff, and Richard Reeves-Ellington.

— Finally, the candidates were asked about the town’s aging infrastructure, including repairs to the crumbling portions of Town Hall.

“It comes back to funding. First and foremost, we need to develop, adopt and promote a capital plan,” said Near, who added that the town has to grow its way out of the situation.

“We can take advantage of a very good economic situation in terms of the town’s bond rating, which is excellent,” said Dawson, who stressed that the town had to come up with some kind of plan to address the issues.

Martelle echoed the sentiments about long-term preparation.

“Economic development, getting the Industrial Development Agency involved in attracting businesses, that can help support this infrastructure and help support a capital plan,” said Martelle.

Kuhn called it unacceptable that Bethlehem has not put together such a plan.

“What happens when you don’t have a capital plan is that you have basically unorganized and inefficient borrowing and spending on a year-to-year basis, with no logic and no forethought,” said Kuhn.

Supervisor

The three candidates for Supervisor were cordial during their nearly hour-long debate.

Democrat John Clarkson, Kyle Kotary (a Democrat appearing on the Republican line) and Richard Reeves-Ellington of the Working Families Party also tackled the open space topic, as well as discussing the growing number of developed and proposed apartment and hamlet-style projects in the town.

“The basic question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘What kind of community do we here in Bethlehem want?’” asked Reeves-Ellington. He said it comes down to a question of what kind of investment the town wants to make, and whether it should be in projects, for example, that don’t pay a living wage to workers.

Kotary ran down a list of points, starting with the need to revisit the town’s comprehensive plan and to put together a cost-benefit analysis of all projects, while also asking for more communication between town hall and residents.

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RichardReevesEllington 2 years, 10 months ago

I want to thank the League of Women Voters and Charles Wiff of the Spotlight for sponsoring the debate.

There was one major item not discussed and one that is very important to the community: the budget. As I understand its composition, about 80% is township employee costs. This number is raising quickly and it is not being addressed in any meaningful way. When there was an opportunity to shed jobs through early retirement, it was not done. A mistake. A quick caluculation makes the total budget personnel costs, both current and retired.

Addressing this issue rquires someone experienced in negotiating with unions, working in large organizations in adverse times, and presenting stark realities to all constituents. I have that experience in 35 years of line management and at senior levels. The other two candidates do not.

For more about me please see www.bethlehem supervisor.com and rreevesellington.com

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