The following Point of View is a response to that of his counterpart, Republican candidate Paul Heiser, who submitted a similar essay in our Sept. 15 edition.
Bethlehem is a great place to live and work, and we truly are one Bethlehem. As I’ve served as your Town Supervisor over the last four years, I’ve often set off for work, like you, depressed by the nonstop negativity that has infected our politics at the national level. But then I see my neighbors, and I see our incredible town employees at work, and I get my perspective back.
At the local level, we are neighbors first and foremost, members of a community who all want pretty much the same things. We all want clean water, good roads, safe neighborhoods and schools, thriving businesses, fun parks, and all the other things that make Bethlehem Bethlehem. We just need to work together to achieve them.
And, here in Bethlehem, we have been getting good things done.
Services Continued Unabated During Pandemic: Our town employees showed their creativity and commitment to serve over the last year and a half when our world was turned upside down by the worst pandemic since WWI, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, and the most important social unrest since the 1960s. One of my favorite examples was our Town Clerk lowering a marriage certificate out a window to a couple. Service with a smile (though now often behind a mask).
Protecting Farms & Green Spaces: Over the last 4 years, we’ve protected more farmland and green spaces than the Town conserved in the previous 25 years combined. This included purchasing 69 acres to create the 147-acre Normans Kill Ravines nature park in Delmar and Elsmere, and partnering with Scenic Hudson to add 21 acres to Henry Hudson Park in Selkirk. And we have more exciting projects in the works!
Leading On Sustainability & Climate Change: Climate change is one of the greatest challenges our town, our nation, and frankly everyone has ever faced, and we are taking it seriously. For example, we have installed electric vehicle charging stations at 3 town parking lots, and started transitioning our town fleet to cleaner vehicles (all paid for with grants!).
Building Equity & Justice: Our Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative planning process was an inspiring partnership between our community and our valued Police Department (led by the first woman to be named Chief of Police) to foster greater justice, fairness, and equity for all community members. We are now moving forward with the recommendations in the plan because they were developed by everyone working together with common goals and with an eye to implementation, not just good intentions.
Complete Streets = Safer Streets: Bethlehem’s moving past the 1960s model of roads just being for cars to a more modern recognition that everyone – drivers, cyclists, and walkers alike – need to share our roads safely. This year, I tripled our annual investment in sidewalk restoration and construction. Construction is underway in Glenmont to make one of our busiest intersections flow better and be safer for pedestrians. And I’m strongly supporting Proposal 6 on the back of the ballot so we can use a $2.9 million grant for continued community forums, detailed engineering and traffic designs for 3 different traffic patterns, and extensive sidewalk and crosswalk improvements (a no vote will send back the $2.9 million and direct major construction only to improving the underground pipes and repaving the road). Let’s not lose this valuable opportunity – Vote YES on Proposition 6 so we can continue to improve Delaware Avenue.
And there’s so much more. We’re creating a new vision for our town’s thoughtful residential and economic growth through the Bethlehem Forward comprehensive planning process, undertaking a cultural resources inventory to help protect historic buildings, improving our parks (did you take a plunge in our new Dive Pool this summer?), bringing the community together with concerts at our new mobile stage… the list’s always growing!
Bethlehem is a strong community with good neighbors, vibrant commercial centers, great schools, and outstanding services. We are very, very lucky to live here. I’m very grateful to have served as your Town Supervisor for the last four years, and I hope that you will trust me and vote for me on November 2 (or during early voting from Oct 23-31 at the Lutheran Church, 85 Elm Ave).
The work is hard but always worth it. As I’ve said many times – I love this town and will always put its best interests first. I’ll close with two of the very best words – Thank You!