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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.

— “I will not vote for anything over the two percent tax cap,” said incumbent Richard Mendick, a Republican, who went on to say that the county needs to adopt a new budgeting philosophy that bases spending on revenues, rather than coming to residents when a budget shortfall develops.

“I’m not for that tax increase, and I’m not for any tax increase whatsoever,” said Democrat Leo Dorsey. He suggested creating a position of Director of Economic Development for the county to bring in and expand business within the county. Dorsey also added that the county could save money by taking action on its nursing home.

“In my first term on the legislature, I was the only Democrat who voted no on a tax increase,” said former legislator Howard Shafer, who formed his own line this year under the title Notice Our Priorities. He joked that there was a gasp in the audience of legislators when he cast that vote. Shafer expressed a need to look at shared services between municipalities for services like road plowing to help save the county money.

The candidates were also asked about the long-term proposals for the closed Bens Bridge over the CSX rail yard in Selkirk.

“Those people down there are the people that I am concerned with because of the economy the way that it is. People traveling back and forth are spending more time and more money to go to work and come home,” said Dorsey. The former Bethlehem police officer expressed concern that emergency crews haven’t been able to get to people because of flooding on other access roads.

“The problem is the bridge costs too much money,” said Mendick, who cited a long record of meeting with officials at all levels to try and find a solution for the bridge. “As it sits now, the bridge will not be rebuilt.”

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RichardReevesEllington 2 years, 11 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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