BETHLEHEM The Bethlehem Town Board has officially set a date, time and place for the public to vote on the abolishment of the superintendent of highways position.
On Wednesday, March 13, board members passed a resolution setting up the procedures for the referendum. The vote will take place on Tuesday, April 30, at Town Hall from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Of about 10 members of the public who spoke at the meeting on the matter, none were in favor of the resolution as written. Many were angry that only one polling place located in Delmar would be used, saying those in the outer parts of town may be disenfranchised.
“The right to vote is one of the most cherished aspects of our Constitution,” said resident and Republican County Legislator Richard Mendick. “The removal of the right for any reason should not be taken lightly.”
Highway Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph is planning to retire on April 30, and because of the change Supervisor John Clarkson proposed abolishing the elected position and placing the duties of the office with the commissioner of public works. A civil servant would then be hired to help manage the highway department under the public works umbrella.
Clarkson said the decision was made to have only one polling place after he, Town Clerk Nanci Moquin and Town Attorney James Potter began researching state laws surrounding such referendums.
He said in order for the town to offer absentee ballots for the vote, each polling place must establish their own Board of Registration and Board of Inspectors. This is so those who are not already registered to vote with the Albany County Board of Elections may vote in this special election.
Clarkson said for multiple polling places to be used, mailers would need to be sent out notifying each resident of where they would be voting in the special election, since the location might not be the same as where one would typically vote. Those needing to register would need to do so at that polling location during designated times and those times would have to be published in two newspapers.