It’s only August and something already stinks about this year’s political season.
The naming of a party’s intended candidates seems like it should be a relatively straightforward process. But, somewhere, somehow, one of the two major parties in the Town of Bethlehem messed that up. We’ve since learned how that happened, but the behavior that has since transpired can only be described as silly.
The proverbial wrench was tossed into the works in late June, when Highway Superintendent Brent Meredith informed the party’s committee that he accepted another job and would not seek re-election. That opened another interview process, to the displeasure of Dan Morin, a 13-year employee of the town’s Highway Department who had already gone through the process once.
Neither Morin nor George Harder, a Town Board candidate who has promised to “work harder” for many years without winning a seat, seem to have the support of the larger Democratic Party here in Bethlehem. Both men have been passed over for endorsement by the committee in the past. But this year, after the deadline to file substitution certificates with the Board of Elections passed, Morin and Harder filed a lawsuit that effectively invalidated their committee’s designated candidates.
It seemed the substitution documents filed by the committee were not signed properly. How was this not caught? This is not a new process. Once Election Commissioner Matt Clyne noticed the error, he alerted Morin and Harder, but did not tell the members of his own committee.
On one side of the party divide, insurgent Democrats are accusing party leadership of nepotism and playing favorites. One the other side, party members have alleged “sour grapes” and feel they’ve been robbed of their democratic right to choose, in a primary election, the candidates who will appear on their party’s ballot line. When all is said and done, the Democrats will try to appear unified in November. But, it looks that may mean asking the rest of their party to vote for their candidates on the Working Families Party line, the only place they will now appear.
Social media has lit up in response to early election season shenanigans and the public discourse is getting heated. We guess that’s why “silly season” is the best way to describe this time of year.
On a somber note, last week Bethlehem lost two individuals who helped build this community.
William Wright served more than half a century as a volunteer firefighter, spending time at both Elsmere and Delmar fire departments. Though he and his wife, Maureen, relocated seven years ago, his contribution to the town is still remembered.
John Flanigan was a volunteer firefighter, and active member of the Slingerlands Fire Department since 1954. And, within that time, he had served as the town’s building inspector.
We often write about being a good neighbor in this newspaper. Mr. Wright and Mr. Flanigan certainly were that to all who call Bethlehem home. To those they left behind, we send our condolences.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.