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The new Democrats

New Bethlehem leaders work to bring party under one tent after tumultuous election season

— After experiencing a shakeup in 2012, many members of Bethlehem’s Democratic Committee say they are looking to a future that is more inclusive and community minded.

The town committee is now under the leadership of Town Board member Jeffrey Kuhn after he was voted into the position of chairman in October, and new committee members are also being welcomed in. Former Chairman Matthew Clyne lost his leadership position after a weighted committee vote, but he retained his chairmanship of the county committee and is still a member of the town committee.

The Reform Democrat movement earlier in the year led to fresh faces in nearly half of the Bethlehem Democratic Committee’s seats. Members of the Reform group felt the party needed more transparency and the group put forward 40 candidates for committee seats, winning 26 seats in the September primary.

But according to Kuhn, the Reform movement no longer exists and the party is now striving to work together as a whole.

“One of our priorities right now is to make sure the committee is very participatory and that every member of the committee — all 62 people — can be as active as they want to be and have as much of a role in the decisions the committee makes as they like,” he said.

New goals for new membership

To get members more involved, Kuhn said groups are focusing on fundraising, recruitment, communications, community service and reexamining bylaws.

“That’s something I’m very proud of,” said Kuhn. “There’s a lot of great energy and knowledge that the people on the committee have. In addition to improving our community through the political process, I think there is also a willingness to improve our community in other ways.”

Even though the community service arm of the committee has just begun, in the past month members were able to raise enough money to help pay for holiday meals for 16 needy families in Bethlehem. They are working on plans for additional projects.

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