Though it is a large and diverse town, Bethlehem really isn’t big enough to warrant this treatment. In this case, what’s in place should work and if it isn’t, those in power aren’t doing their jobs.
There are some who make it to nearly every Town Board meeting and who speak up quickly about the issues concerning them and their neighbors. We salute them. And we’d suggest our leaders look to engaged citizens like them instead of tinkering at Town Hall.
Bethlehem does not need a radical reworking of its government to give all people a part in it. It just needs leaders who will listen.
And we’d point out that’s happening in a lot of cases. The town is looking into open space issues, development of the Route 9W corridor and emergency services structure. Of course, looking at a problem and solving it are two different things.
The blame does not lay entirely with our representatives, though. While there are members of the public who speak out regularly, we’d warrant many of those who are quick to complain about being underrepresented have never tried to do anything about it. At the aforementioned around town meetings, we can attest town staff outnumbered members of the public in attendance in at least some cases.
Just like going to the voting booth, if you don’t speak up you don’t have much reason to complain.
So rather than remaking the wheel, we’d urge our leaders to improve it. Make a concerted effort to include everyone in town business and pay thoughts more than lip service. And residents, hold your elected leaders to their promises that they’ll listen to you.