Surrounded by members of the town’s police force, the Bethlehem Republican Committee announced the majority of its candidates for the fall election last week.
The event was held on the steps of Town Hall on the evening of Thursday, April 16. About 50 people were in attendance to learn the endorsements.
“This is a great time for (the Republicans) to run,” said Republican Committee Chairwoman Melissa Kermani. “There’s a lot of issues we feel strongly about, and we’re pumped.”
Candidates included Jim Foster for supervisor, Bridget Zigrosser for town board and Melanie Dumers for town clerk. The Committee is still seeking a candidate for highway superintendent and the other available town board position.
The last Republican to serve on the Town Board was George Lenhardt from 1994 to 2005. He later served by appointment for one year in 2012 as an Independent. Former Highway Superintendent Gregg Sagendorph and former Receiver of Taxes Nancy Mendick, both of who have retired within the last two years, were also Republicans.
Kermani said she was excited the age of the endorsements were skewing younger this year than is typical for the party. The majority of candidates are under 45 years old, and Kermani said she’s been seeing involvement from a younger generation since she took over party leadership.
Foster, 32, was raised in Bethlehem, but left for a time to attend college and gain experience in Washington D.C. He was later an attorney with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, an international law firm based in New York City. He was also a former volunteer at Elsmere Fire Department.
“When I moved back to Bethlehem, I was disappointed to see firsthand how my hometown had changed since 2011,” said Foster, a Delmar resident. “The contributions of our men and women in law enforcement have been marginalized, our services in town have been diminished and many of our property and business owners have been pushed to the financial brink by taxes.”
Foster said while there are often issues that resonate from year to year, the community is seeing certain issues come to a head. He cited the lack of leaf collection, alleged problems with snow removal and plowing, the recent property reassessment and the failure to negotiate with law enforcement.
“You can’t blame the rank-and-file workers of the Town of Bethlehem,” said Foster. “They do a phenomenal job and work tirelessly, day in and day out, to continue to deliver services. The issue is the mismanagement in the delivery of those services.”
Zigrosser, a teaching assistant with the Guilderland Central School District, is a former president of the Glenmont Elementary School PTA, and has previously coached for the Bethlehem Recreational Soccer Club and Bethlehem Pop Warner Cheerleading. The 46-year-old from Glenmont said she felt a fresh perspective was needed to make appropriate changes representative of the entire town.
“I think there has been a very divisive attitude at Town Hall, and a lot of us don’t feel like we’ve been included,” said Zigrosser. “This is our town, and I feel a lot of groups of people and hamlets in the community have been ignored. Their concerns haven’t been met, and we want to work with all residents throughout the town.”
Dumers, 43, of Selkirk, is an employee of the state Department of Transportation, who is also taking night classes at the University of Albany.
“I share the experiences of many of my neighbors here in town, and I understand what it’s like to have a full plate,” said Dumers. “I will bring this tenacity and drive to the Town Clerk’s Office, where I will competently handle the operations of the Town and work hard for its residents and business owners.”
The committee also announced its backing of several candidates for the county legislature.
Andy Holland, 34, of Slingerlands, intends to run for Albany County Legislature in the 33rd district, while Kate Pope, 29, will run in the 35th district. The committee is also endorsing Conservative incumbent Richard Mendick, who is seeking a third term in the 36th Legislative District. A candidate is still being sought for the 34th district race.
Holland is a litigation attorney with Napierski, VanDenburgh, Napierski & O’Connor, LLP, in Albany. Pope lives in Delmar and has “ experience in recruiting for a large international staffing company.”
“If elected, I plan to use the advocacy skills I have developed as an attorney to forcefully and competently represent the interests of the residents in the 33rd district, while pursuing sound, responsible legislation for the county as a whole,” said Holland. “My hope is to be able to offer a sensible perspective to balance the Democratic majority in the legislature.”
The town’s Democratic Committee is set to announce its endorsements on Thursday, April 23, at the Bethlehem Public Library. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.
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