BETHLEHEM — The Bethlehem Democratic Committee (BDC) began soliciting resumes from qualified residents interested in running for the position of town highway supervisor after current Supervisor Brent Meredith announced that he will be leaving his position to take a job at the University of Albany in Facilities Management.
Due to the timing of the announcement, interested candidates were informed they must submit their resumes no later than Monday, July 3.
Dan Morin, the only other candidate to interview with the committee before it initially endorsed Meredith in May, said he was confused that its members were still looking, much less that they were going to require him to re-submit his resume, which he has refused to do. “I already interviewed back in April,” he said.
Morin, who ran against Meredith in the last Highway Supervisor election, said, “I’m running like I did last time. I went out and got my own signatures.
“I’m already going to be on the line,” he said. “I was going to primary Brent [Meredith]. And, what I don’t understand is why they’re looking for somebody else when I’m already going to be on the line.”
BDC Chairman Jeff Kuhn said that they decided to start the vetting process over when Meredith, the incumbent, made the decision to not run. “There are people who may be qualified but decided not to run against Brent because he was the incumbent and they felt he was doing a good job. Now that it’s an open race, there may be others who decide they want to run and we want to give them a chance to come forward.”
Under state law, when a designated nominee declines his or her party’s endorsement, the decision of who to run on that ballot line then falls to a committee within the larger committee, individuals who were named when the initial petitions were filed. In this case, that would be Kuhn, 1st Vice President Dan Coffey and 2nd Vice President Pam Skripak. Kuhn said they do intend to consult with the party-at-large during the decision-making process.
Morin, who has been campaigning on his 12 years working at the town’s highway department to improve and maintain local streets and roadways, said that he feels his experience with the department makes him uniquely qualified to serve at its supervisor. He said that he was inspired to run the first time because he felt the department was “not managed to a very good standard and I felt that I could make a change.”
To effectively run a department, said Morin, you have to understand the work, the people and the dynamics. “You can’t just come from the outside,” he said.
At this point, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen or even if the committee will be able to find anyone to run against him in the primary. Either way, he said he will continue to run his campaign.
According to Supervisor John Clarkson, Meredith will remain in his position until Sept. 7, after which a replacement appointed by the Town Board will take over for the duration of his term. The board, which could either appoint an existing town employee or bring in someone new, will consider its options over the summer, he said.
“Brent’s contributions have been many, and his steady hand and strong management and engineering skills will be missed,” said Clarkson. “The new sidewalks on Krumkill Road, Maple Avenue and Feura Bush Road would not have been possible without his willingness and ability to manage Highway Department resources carefully; he also built our sidewalk maintenance and replacement program, which is already making major improvements in areas like New Scotland Road, Delaware Avenue, Adams Street and Herber Avenue. All of this was accomplished while carrying on the myriad other Highway Department responsibilities, including street paving, snow removal, brush and loose leaves pickup, and all of the civic/beautification projects including street trees, baskets and flags, town events and holiday displays. Bethlehem also has the best recycling program and compost operation in the Region, which Brent has helped expand.”
“The Bethlehem Democratic Committee is grateful to Brent for his excellent service to our town and for stepping up to seek election in 2013 when the Highway Superintendent position was vacant,” said Kuhn in a joint announcement released with Meredith. “We wish him well in his next professional endeavor at SUNY Albany.”
“I have enjoyed serving the residents of Bethlehem over the past two terms and am proud of the work that my talented and dedicated team at the Highway and Parks Department accomplished to improve the quality of life in Bethlehem,” said Meredith, thanking residents, the BDC and department employees for their support during his time in office. “It has been my privilege to lead the Highway and Parks Department’s efforts to maintain our high quality road network, to build new sidewalks and refurbish existing sidewalks throughout Town, install traffic calming measures to make our streets safer, expand town services like expanded access to our compost facility, improve the Parks with new facilities and playgrounds, continue our excellent service in leaf and brush pickup, and ensure safe roads through our services like snow removal.”