Cunningham gets Dem nod, primary brews

Reform Dem member means to square off against former supervisor

— Former Bethlehem Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham has formally announced his candidacy for a Town Board seat in the coming November election, but a primary is already fast brewing.

Cunningham announced his candidacy at an event on Thursday, May 31, at Normanside Country Club. Hoping to win the seat that will soon be vacated by Town Board appointee George Lenhart at the end of the year, Cunningham has the designation of both the town Democratic and Independence Parties.

“I can tell you … the reason I’m running is to focus on some of the major issues facing the town,” said Cunningham. “We’re heading into a financial budget issue and we’re going to have to start taking aggressive steps to address that and still maintain the core mission of the town.”

Cunningham was supervisor from 2007 to 2009, but lost a re-election bid to former Supervisor Sam Messina. In January, he had hoped to be appointed to the Town Board seat vacated by Mark Jordan, but stepped aside towards the end of the process after Supervisor John Clarkson pushed for an appointee who would serve for only one year.

“I thought I should be appointed because I planned to run in the coming election, for continuity. Switching out (board members) doesn’t serve the best interests of the community,” Cunningham said of that decision. “But it became a political hot potato. I knew I planned to run, so I was fine with pulling back to focus on November’s election.”

Bill Reinhardt, a member of the Bethlehem Reform Democrats group who was also interest in being appointed to the board earlier in the year, plans to challenge Cunningham in a primary for the seat. He currently has the endorsement of the town’s Working Families Party. Reinhardt said he became interested in politics after serving on several of the town’s citizen advisory committees.

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