“Given that you were considered by this committee and were not supported with anything more than a couple of votes, then I guess you’re comfortable with that. I personally would not want to be responsible for launching a process that would deny the Democratic voters in our Town the opportunity to choose in the primary…” – Joanne Cunningham, August 10, 2017.
Joanne Cunningham, Bethlehem Democratic Committee Person and Albany County Legislator, made those comments to George Harder and Dan Morin, Democratic Candidates for Town Board and Highway Supervisor respectively, at a recent Bethlehem Democratic Committee (BDC) meeting. She seems to suggest that lack of BDC support for a candidate necessarily carries weight with the voting public. That is not always the case, and she knows it– personally.
On May 9, 2013, the BDC held a meeting to vote on its proposed slate of candidates for the September primary ballot. Brent Meredith, Ms. Cunningham’s husband, was an announced candidate for Highway Supervisor. He received zero votes from the Committee. He nevertheless went on to win the Democratic Primary against the BDC’s endorsed candidate.
Albany County legislative representatives from Bethlehem were very vocal in support of the proposed anti-nepotism legislation in June this year. However, as BDC members, neither Bill Reinhardt nor Joanne Cunningham objected to the “friends and family” slate of candidates put forward by the BDC Executive Committee this May; a slate that included not only Brent Meredith, Joanne Cunningham’s husband, but also Maureen Cunningham, Joanne’s sister. Interestingly, neither Chairman Jeffery Kuhn nor other members of the BDC leadership shared with the committee the family relationships between and among Meredith and Cunninghams Joanne and Maureen. Had those relationships been acknowledged and discussed, perhaps the initial Bethlehem Democratic slate would have looked differently. In short, the current state of turmoil following Brent Meredith’s abrupt career change might have been avoided entirely.
It is hypocritical and more than a bit inappropriate for Ms. Cunningham to be so opinionated on the Harder/Morin lawsuit, given that the problems related to it stem from her husband not being forthcoming and pursuing job prospects while the membership of the BDC was out pounding the pavement in June collecting signatures for his designating petition. Members of the BDC and others collected roughly 1,325 signatures for Brent Meredith for Highway Supervisor; Brent Meredith and Joann Cunningham collected zero signatures, a clear indication of their commitment to the re-election effort. A prudent person, under such conditions, would recuse themselves from comment, heeding the advice of my dear late Irish grandfather that “A closed mouth catches no flies.” Finally, as a committee person who was certainly “in-the-know” that her husband was pursuing other job prospects, but didn’t come forward, Ms. Cunningham bears direct responsibility for disenfranchising voters who signed her husband’s designating petition. If there is not a September primary, Joanne Cunningham is among those chiefly to blame.
Member, Bethlehem Democratic Party Committee