BETHLEHEM Residents of Bethlehem may soon find the local Republican Party unrecognizable from its election seasons of the past.
At least, that's the goal of new Bethlehem Republican Committee Chairman Fred Di Maggio, who after taking the top spot in December is looking to revitalize the party to prepare for elections in the years ahead and expand the committee’s base.
“Mistakes were made in the last election season and I want to rectify that,” said Di Maggio. “This community will respond to reasonable, rational positions. We are not hard right.”
Republicans have generally not fared well in their bids for town office the last few election cycles, and in the recent Bethlehem race the party endorsed Councilman Kyle Kotary, a Democrat, for the position of town supervisor.
According to the new chairman, that was a major mistake that disenfranchised the town’s Republicans.
“The cross-endorsement of Kyle Kotary did more to hurt the party than anything else,” he said. “Not that Kyle is a bad guy, but we didn’t vote Republican.”
Di Maggio ran unopposed in a special election for the chairmanship on Dec. 14. He succeeds Ralph Ambrosio, who chose not to run for re-election because of work obligations.
Di Maggio said he feels national Republican races are off-putting to the public and are giving party members on the local level a bad name. He thinks most topics being discussed by Republicans in the presidential debates are “not issues that should be involved at a town level.”
He is now looking to rebuild the GOP in Bethlehem so Independents or residents without a party affiliation feel more comfortable voting for Republican candidates for local offices.
Di Maggio said his main goals are to identify potential committee members and issues that appeal to the party's base, as well as to the community as a whole. He would also like to raise more money than in the past to fund more effective campaigns, while strengthening the focus on enrolling new residents and reaching those looking to change parties.