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Bethlehem supervisor dubs 2012 a success

Town budget, politics play central roles in Clarkson’s brief political life

Bethlehem Supervisor John Clarkson reminisces about his first year in office and looks ahead to plans for the rest of his term.

Bethlehem Supervisor John Clarkson reminisces about his first year in office and looks ahead to plans for the rest of his term. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— “The process we used was good and the result was as good as it could be,” he said.

Clarkson said he knew implementing change would be difficult and working with the board would come with challenges.

“I think it’s a good thing when a board debates issues and disagrees on various policy,” he said. “That’s the whole point of having a Town Board. There are of course sometimes when politics enter into it and false arguments and I really don’t like those sorts of things, but I don’t think we had too much of that.”

The supervisor said that debate, as well as input from the public and employees, has helped him to change his point of view on various issues, especially on further budget cuts.

“I’m thinking of the transfer station and the compost facility,” he said. “On both of those, there was a bigger dollar cut to be had, but when you looked at the impact it wasn’t worth it. The leaf collection was a big one, too, but where we landed was a good place.”

The town considered cutting back on leaf pick up and did opt to reduce the hours of the transfer station, an issue that elicited many calls from the public. A decision to close the Colonial Acres Golf Course was hotly debated, as were expenditures in the Police Department.

The politics of power

Before running for supervisor, Clarkson was previously the executive director of the Commission on Local Government Efficiency, which was formed under the former Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s administration. His 2011 bid was his first shot at elected office, and Clarkson began campaigning against Councilman Kotary, who was cross endorsed by the town’s Democratic, Republican and Independence parties. Once former supervisor Sam Messina dropped a reelection bid, Kotary was the sole candidate until Clarkson announced. Clarkson went on to win the Democratic primary, and Kotary suspended his campaign.

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