DELMAR – Paul Heiser can just about say he’s a lifelong resident of Bethlehem — his family moved here when he was a toddler, and he’s stayed here ever since.
“I love this town. I’ve made many good friends here and have accumulated many great memories,” he said. “That’s why it pains me to see a number of indicators that show things are going sideways here in town.”
Heiser threw his hat into the ring as the Republican candidate for Bethlehem Town Supervisor in February. Since that time, he’s been visible at Town Board meetings and spoken out against the proposed Delaware Avenue Complete Streets project. He said he’s concerned how it will impact business and divert traffic to residents roads in established neighborhoods surrounding the corridor. He’s gone as far as to say Town Board isn’t listening to those speaking out against it.
“The Town Board is known for its secrecy and lack of transparency,” he said, adding that he’d rather see “more reasonable upgrades” such as reduced speed limits and additional crosswalks. “There are many in this town who believe their voices aren’t being heard and that the current board doesn’t really care to know what their concerns are.”
Heiser is also proposing a ward-system of government to address concerns residents outside of Delmar have made about a perceived lack of representation in Town Hall. All of the present Town Board members live within the Delmar zip code. Instead, he’d like to see a representative from each hamlet.
The newcomer expresses himself as a strong proponent for the police department. Though the police department has made recent hires, there are proposals that have been made under the police report initiative that have not yet been introduced. Most notably is the introduction to body cameras, something the police department supported for its officers. It’s a concern for him, he said, as he reads law enforcement statistics.
Citing figures from the Division of Criminal Justice Services, violent crime in Bethlehem increased by 54 percent from 2017 to 2019. In that time, he said he blames Democrats for neglecting staffing numbers and not providing enough resources.
Heiser is the senior research analyst for the New York State School Boards Association. In his more than 22 years with NYSSBA, he has been involved in researching and analyzing issues related to pre-K through 12 public education and advocating for school boards. Prior to his work with NYSSBA, he was a legislative analyst for former State Sen. Stephen Saland.
After attaining a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York College at Oneonta and a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he returned to the community in which he grew up. He continues to have deep connections with the community, including being active in St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
“I grew up in Bethlehem and want to see it become a prosperous, business-friendly and financially stable town once again,” Heiser said, “but it will take a different approach than what is currently offered by the current town leadership. When elected, I will work to represent all residents, regardless of party.” — Michael Hallisey