New leader aims to build town GOP

Di Maggio says building base, outreach keys to party's resurgence

— “I want to develop a structure and message that will appeal to all residents,” he said. “The goal is to eventually have a two-party town. I don’t think it serves the people to have a one-party town, but I know it will be a challenge to overcome those odds.”

The chairman said some of his main concerns for the town are issues that should extend across party lines, such as the town’s spending, tax structure, and the aging sewer system.

“We need to overcome the perception the Bethlehem doesn’t welcome business in order to broaden the tax base,” he said, explaining he feels the town should be aggressively investing in the Vista Tech Park. “The commercial space has been maxed out, so now they need to focus on bringing in the tech firms.”

As for the new administration, Di Maggio would like to see openness to new ideas brought forth from any individual or group. He would also like to see a budget that curtails spending to “reflect the reality of the town’s insufficient income,” so as to not raise property taxes.

“I believe our police force is the largest per capita of any town in the county,” he said. “We all want to be safe, but there has to be a balance.”

Di Maggio said contractual obligations are also an issue, explaining department heads should be asked to cut spending through consolidation or leaving vacant positions unfilled.

But his immediate aim is to identify the town’s core Republican interested in redeveloping the party, since volunteer numbers have been down in recent years.

“With the economy it’s become harder to recruit people. Campaigning owns you. It’s really a four-month commitment,” he said, explaining how phoning voters, walking petitions, attending meetings and participating in literature drops can wear on a person.

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