LETTER: Bossism trumping good government

Editor, The Spotlight:

Did you know we have a Town Board where three of the four councilmen are also officers of the Bethlehem Democratic Party?  Read on, it gets more interesting.

On July 23, the Board met in Supervisor Clarkson’s absence for its regular biweekly meeting. The visual was stunning as we saw the chairman of the Bethlehem Democratic Party, Jeff Kuhn, chairing the meeting. Mr. Kuhn, by the way, enjoys his post as party chairman as a result of a Bethlehem Democrats intra-party fight for reform. At that time, “Reform Democrats” placed an end to “bossism” high on their list of priorities, and their revolt resulted in a purge in the party’s leadership and the election of Supervisor John Clarkson. 

Mr. Kuhn, who had been elected to office with the support of the “bosses” he now derided, became the Bethlehem Democratic Party chairman. Later, he was also tapped to become the Bethlehem’s deputy supervisor.

I suppose someone could make the case that this type of inbred governance, with the Democratic Party controlling the Town Board makes for good government. I, for one, would love to hear the case made. Until that day, I will continue to believe that one-party rule in the town can only lead to dysfunction. 

We saw this recently when the entire board turned a deaf ear to residents’ complaints and their presentation of documented errors made in the course of the town’s reassessment. The Board’s indifference has the look and feel of bossism trumping good government. 

When I ran for the Town Board on a multi-party ticket last fall, I did so because I believed that opposing ideas should be given a voice and consideration at the highest level in town government. Having an elected “someone” to represent those ideas is the only way to ensure this happens. But we now have elected a Board of Democrats who are hamstrung by the Democratic Party. 

Here in Bethlehem, we have a wonderful town, and we have talented people who are capable of doing much that is good. As a community, we should be grateful for our blessings but we should never stop in our quest for fairness and a political process that is open to everyone regardless of race, religion, national origin and/or political affiliation.     

Dan Cunningham


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