Cunningham out, Martelle in

Healthy turnout for forum on open Bethlehem board seat

Jeremy Martelle, who ran for town board in January 2011, seeks appointment for town board after the vacancy left by Mark Jordan.

Jeremy Martelle, who ran for town board in January 2011, seeks appointment for town board after the vacancy left by Mark Jordan. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Martelle said he doesn't agree with Clarkson on the issue, because he is “publicly excluding people within the town who may wish to run for the appointment.”

“My biggest problem is the fact that he is saying, 'Don’t want to be interim, need not apply.' I don’t think that it’s right to make running an issue,” he said after the event.

After the announcement, the forum’s panel consisted of Martelle, Kevin Crawford, John Hudacs, Donna Giliberto, George Lenhardt, Ted Putney, Michael Burgess, Loretta Simon, and Christina Kidera.

Each person was given two minutes to tell the audience about themselves. They then took turns answering questions submitted by the audience.

“Tonight is different for many reasons, one being you will not be voting on any candidates,” explained Berry to the audience. “You will be hearing from people who have applied to be appointed for a vacancy on the Town Board.”

League of Women Voters members explained that a majority vote by the board is needed to elect a new member and there is no deadline for the decision to be made under state law. Clarkson said the board is planning to vote on the issue at the organizational meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

A letter signed by nearly 40 residents addressed to the board asked for a candidate to be selected that has the appropriate qualifications and knowledge of the Town Board and its services. It also urged the board not to select a representative of a political party who would seek reelection.

“Serving for a year via appointment creates an overwhelming advantage for the incumbent, making it more difficult and possibly discouraging others to run. This could result in Bethlehem voters being denied a choice among candidates competing on a level playing field this November,” the letter read.

Martelle questioned the motives of the letter writers, saying many have political ties.

Clarkson, however, said he plans for this seat to be non-political through and through.

“This November will be an election which will run through the usual process and that’s the way it should be. The voter will have a clear choice from a level playing field and no party or person will have an opinion,” he said.

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