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Bethlehem Town Board race tight

Reinhardt over Cunningham 1673-1580, absentee ballots to decide winner

Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson, town board primary candidate Bill Reinhardt, and Reform Democrats organizer Pam Robbins discuss primary elections results.

Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson, town board primary candidate Bill Reinhardt, and Reform Democrats organizer Pam Robbins discuss primary elections results. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— The Bethlehem Reform Democrat movement began in May of this year. Group organizers said they were frustrated with the inner workings of the town’s Democratic Party and did not like the direction the party was headed. They claimed the point was “not to form a new party, but to be proud of and participate in” the current party.

Supervisor John Clarkson has endorsed the movement and said he feels Reinhardt would be an asset to the board. On Thursday evening, he called the results “dramatic.”

“I think it’s healthy to have a lot of new people involved in the committee and I heard from a lot of people, including Matt Clyne and other leadership figures, that they had trouble getting people to run. So we have solved that problem,” he said.

Cunningham said no matter who wins, the party now needs to come together to focus on beating Republican candidate Jeremy Martelle in November. Reinhardt agreed, adding he feels the Reform movement has done good for the entire party.

“I talked to many disaffected residents who want to participate in the party because of the changes that happened tonight,” he said. “I talked with Independents who now want to become Democrats because of the changes that happened tonight, and I’m very excited about that.”

Cunningham holds the endorsement of the town’s Independence Party, meaning he will still be on the general election ballot regardless of the primary’s outcome.

Martelle said now that the primary is over, the “real choice begins” for the town’s voters. He said Bethlehem needs new leadership, and questioned if that could come from the Democratic Party.

“We need someone who will bring a balanced approach and new ideas to our town government,” he said.

In the meantime, Cunningham and Reinhardt will need to wait at least a week to find out the official winner of the primary. Absentee ballots within Albany County were opened starting Friday, Sept. 14. The general election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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