Dear Editor / Spotlight:
While the latest season of “Game of Thrones” has just ended, the intriguing political season here in Bethlehem is just getting started.
For over eight years, I served our Town on the Planning Board and as Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals. I also served on the Town’s committee which reviewed our Comprehensive Plan. I presided over countless public hearings and was able to meet and learn from scores of our residents who sought or opposed a zoning variance request. Not everyone agreed with the ZBA’s decisions, but everyone was given a full and fair opportunity to be heard and all points of view were always considered.
I am a lifelong Democrat and, until last week, served as First Vice-Chair of the Bethlehem Democratic Committee (“BDC”). When Brent Meredith advised the BDC in June that he had accepted a job at UAlbany and was declining his candidacy for Highway Superintendent, the committee voted to substitute Town Board member Giles Wagoner for the Highway position and substitute me for Giles’ Town Board slot. Giles and I were sued by George Harder and Dan Morin and the court invalidated the substitution paperwork, denying the voters a chance to choose their party’s candidate at a primary. Fortunately, Giles and I are still on the ballot on the Working Families Party line and have every intention of winning in November.
We live in a community where our services are first rate and our annual tax increases have been kept within the state-mandated tax cap. Bethlehem has the highest possible “fiscal stress” score. We have top rate parks and services. We should never take for granted the hard work of our elected officials and town staff. To assure our continued success, we need to continue to elect strong, qualified individuals to positions of leadership.
There is more we can do. We need to address our aging infrastructure. We need more sidewalks to connect our communities. We need a bypass from Exit 22 in Selkirk to Route 9W to direct truck traffic away from residential neighborhoods and to spark business development. We need to fill Vista Tech Park with businesses paying taxes. We need a task force to address our town’s growing opiod problem. We need to regularly review and update our Comprehensive Plan and zoning code to assure it is current given changes in our Town. We need to encourage open space preservation through tax incentives and the development of an open space fund.
I am committed to campaigning hard and look forward to meeting with as many residents as possible. I am confident the voters will choose the best candidate on Nov. 7 regardless of how far down the ballot his/her name appears. Please contact me with any issues or concerns you have at Dan@coffey4townboard.com.