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Reinhardt keeps his lead

Cunningham gives support to opponent, absentee count shifts committee results

Absentee ballots were counted in the Democratic primary race between candidates John Cunningham, sitting far left, and Bill Reinhardt, sitting second from right, on Monday, Sept. 24. Reinhardt officially won the election by approximately 30 votes and will face Republican Jeremy Martelle in November.

Absentee ballots were counted in the Democratic primary race between candidates John Cunningham, sitting far left, and Bill Reinhardt, sitting second from right, on Monday, Sept. 24. Reinhardt officially won the election by approximately 30 votes and will face Republican Jeremy Martelle in November. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Bill Reinhardt is the official Democratic candidate for Bethlehem Town Board.

On primary election night, Reinhardt held a lead of 93 votes over former Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham in the Democratic primary. The official count came down to absentee ballots, of which 352 were requested and 250 received back.

The ballots were counted the morning of Monday, Sept. 24, at the Albany County Board of Elections. Though Cunningham closed the lead, gaining approximately 140 votes, the margin was still too great to change the outcome.

“I’m proud of the campaign we ran. It was positive,” said Cunningham. “It was a very narrow campaign, only 33 votes.”

Cunningham said he expected to pick up a larger number of absentee votes, in part because his campaign encouraged residents to obtain absentee ballots if needed. The former supervisor said he would now be backing Reinhardt as he faces Republican Candidate Jeremy Martelle in the fall.

“He has a tough campaign ahead of him and give my full support to the Democratic candidate,” he said.

Reinhardt ran as a member of the Bethlehem Reform Democrat movement, which also fielded a number of candidates for the town Democratic Committee. The group lost three committee seats in the absentee tally and two more resulted in ties. In the event of a tie, the town Democratic Committee chairman can consult with the county chairman to decide the winner. In this case, both positions are held by Albany County Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner Matthew Clyne. Clyne also picked up absentee votes and secured a seat on the committee itself after coming up one vote shy on election night.

Of the 62 seats on the Town Democratic Committee seats, Reform Democrats could hold up to 27, depending on who wins the two tied seats.

“There’s still that message of going forward as one,” said Pam Robbins, one of the people who founded the Reform Democrats in May. “There is a real mix here now of half-and-half if you want to base it on who used to be on the committee and who are members of the RDM (Reform Democrat Movement).”

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