BETHLEHEM —The town’s Democratic and Republican Committees have begun announcing their endorsed candidates for the year’s upcoming election, although some names have yet to be finalized.
On the Democratic side, Joyce Becker and Dan Coffey are each seeking re-election, having served since 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Becker has almost three decades of experience heading the town’s Senior Services Department.
Coffey is a trial attorney at Bowitch & Coffey, an Albany law firm he co-founded in June 2012, with decades-spanning experience in government too.
Becker said, “I want to continue what we started four years ago and to look into our town’s future, with issues like land use and open space, as well as continue to receive input from the public about what they care about.”
She added that since assuming office, she has learned more about the importance of the comprehensive plan update
and expressed excitement over the ongoing successful community forums where residents from different parts of town can voice their opinions — she felt that this also complemented her background in human services.
She concluded that she looked forward to maintaining the Town Board’s “approachable” feel, seeing more women assume leadership roles in town and to continue the dialogue between government and citizenry, like with the comprehensive plan.
Coffey said that he has met with Bethlehem’s department heads and staff to add to his belt of experience on the town level.
While also hoping to continue work on the comprehensive plan update, he said that he wants to find ways for an open space protection fund “that shies away from tax,” to make better use of the Vista Technology Park in Slingerlands, to look into a road diet on Delaware Avenue, and establishing more connections with the Albany County Rail Trail.
The Bethlehem GOP has announced just one endorsed candidate so far — James Carriero — and will announce the other in the near future.
Carriero had previously worked for KeyBank since 1978 to support schools and non-profit organizations, and has been a member of the board of directors for the St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation, Senior Hope Counseling, and the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany.
Carriero, who had previously run for Town Board in last year’s election, said that he’d expected to not win then since he was “getting to know the process and understand the forums and issues. People would have to first get to know you and therefore, it was more like training experience.”
Looking ahead, he said that his primary motivation this year is finding a balance for the community.
“We need to maintain balance in our positions and views on issues, and not overreact and not make it too political,” he said.
“It needs to make common sense. Coming from the business sector and having worked with government, seeking a balance or center is very important for society. I simply want to give back the talents and blessings I’ve learned through the years to the people.”
While the GOP has yet to announce its endorsed candidate in this category, David VanLuven, the current Town Supervisor on the Democratic side, confirmed he’s seeking re-election, having first assumed the position in January 2018.
While he had been a Town Board member prior from 2016 to 2018, he has an extensive background in urban and environmental policy, biology, working with government and non-profit organizations, and budget maintenance.
In an email to Spotlight News, he wrote that since the position’s term is quite short — just two years — it takes time to continue getting major work done and seeing them through.
He offered the example of the town’s comprehensive plan which connects with issues like development, forest and farm protection, and infrastructure improvements.
“I’ve only gotten started and we have so much work to do,” he wrote, adding that Bethlehem is in great shape.
He recognized all the town’s employees, local businesses and services that provide for the people too.
“I want the Town to continue delivering top-notch services in a fiscally responsible manner,” he wrote, looking ahead.
“I want to establish a Farms and Forests Fund to help give landowners options other than selling to developers; support new and existing businesses; build more trails for walking and biking; expand our parks; and create a new vision for Bethlehem’s future with clear actions we can take to better manage development.”
Service is one motivation behind the Democratic candidate, Marc Dorsey, who is running for office for the first time this year.
Having lived in Bethlehem for over 48 years, he has a long background in construction and carpentry, and has worked as a local police officer, a volunteer firefighter at the Delmar Fire Department, and for seven years now, has served in the army where he was a sniper team leader that was deployed in Afghanistan.
“I’ve served the state of New York, I’ve served my country, and this year, I felt that it was an opportunity now to serve in a role in the Town of Bethlehem in the sense of maybe changing the mindset of the workers by leadership and to serve at the pleasure of the Town Supervisor,” Dorsey said.
“From what I’ve learned in the military on how to lead by example, hopefully that can affect a better culture here and get better efficient workers and guys that believe in the town and in what they’re doing is making a difference.”
Incumbent Highway Superintendent John “Tiger” Anastasi, on the GOP side, is seeking re-election, having served since January 2018.
Raised and having lived most of his life in Delmar, he is a building contractor and developer who had majored in Construction Technology at Hudson Valley Community College.
He had also spent many years working for the Bethlehem Pop Warner Organization where he became president, before retiring to earn a spot on the board of directors at the Capital District Pop Warner Organization.
Anastasi wrote in an email to Spotlight News that his team has been already successful “with the connectivity of sidewalks throughout the town, improvements to fields that our children play on, improvements to our deteriorated stormwater systems, and the updating of our highway fleet, which has been seriously neglected in the past, yet is much needed to continue to provide the level of services that our taxpayers deserve; I would like to continue on the aggressive road we have paved in the past twelve months.”
Expressing pride in working long hours with his dedicated crew, he also wrote, “Why change something that works!”
Joanne Cunningham, Chair of the Bethlehem Democratic Committee, said her side’s candidates are experienced leaders with a vision for the town.
“I think the big issues overall are the continually perceived overdevelopment, preservation of open space, and town future planning,” she said.
Melissa Kermani, the GOP Chair, wrote in an email to Spotlight News that it’s important to have “varying perspectives” on issues which could lead to seeking better policies and directions for the town.
She similarly brought up how issues like overdevelopment, the comprehensive plan update and the town’s character’s preservation are key.
When asked how she felt about the town’s so-called one-party rule so far under the Democrats, she wrote, “The Progressive policies cannot make up the majority of the strategies going forward. We need to include all residents of this town, and having a more balanced government will help achieve this goal.”
Residents can meet the Democratic candidates on Sunday, March 3 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall auditorium on 445 Delaware Ave. in Delmar. For more information, visit the Bethlehem Democratic Committee’s website at bethlehemdems.org.
They can also meet the Republican candidates on Monday, June 10 at 5 p.m. at Romo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on 365 Feura Bush Road in Glenmont. For more information, visit the Bethlehem Republican Committee’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BethlehemGOP.