Editor, The Spotlight:
Far from being a “faction” or splinter group, the Bethlehem Reform Democrats and their supporters are the real Democratic majority within the Town of Bethlehem. We’re working to open up the current Democratic Party through advocacy and by helping people run for the Town Democratic Committee who are dedicated to openness, transparency and reform. We are committed and faithful Democrats, who are probably more reflective of the views of rank and file voters than the current leadership of the town party.
Consider that in the past two supervisor races, the Democratic Committee has “unanimously” supported candidates who failed to win office, despite the fact that Democratic voters outnumber the other major party by approximately 3,000. In 2009 Sam Messina defeated the party committee’s choice, sitting Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham. In 2011, Democratic voters rejected the party committee choice by nearly two to one, supporting John Clarkson over the party leadership’s cross-endorsed candidate, Town Board member Kyle Kotary. Clearly the current leadership of the Town Democratic Committee is not in sync with the voters. We need stronger Democratic candidates who will win when endorsed by the party. We need a vigorous recruitment effort for candidates for public office – there are so many highly qualified people in town, and it’s a shame to have these choices made without any real community engagement or input and have decisions made by a few individuals often based on long-time association with party leaders.
The solution is to work within the system we have and broaden participation in the town committee under a set of guiding principles- that is what our reform effort is all about. We began by publicizing the issues, describing how the committee is selected and encouraging regular rank and file Dems to run for the committee. The response was terrific, and there are now 40 BRD-assisted candidates running for the town committee in the Primary Election on Sept. 13. Democratic voters will have a choice this year (most for the first time) in who they want to represent them on their town committee, and that choice will also be about how they want their town committee to operate.