Editor, The Spotlight:
Voters in Bethlehem should take the vitriol directed at Supervisor John Clarkson by Republican candidate Fred DiMaggio and his surrogates with a grain of salt. When it comes to political attacks, Mr. DiMaggio has a well-deserved reputation of playing fast and loose with the truth. When he ran for the Town Board in 2009, Mr. DiMaggio was censured by Fair Campaign Practices of the Capital Region for making false and misleading attacks against his opponent in that race. Mr. DiMaggio is now up to his old tricks again. The claims being made regarding Bethlehem’s budgets and taxes are pure fiction.
Mr. DiMaggio, who previously worked as a political operative in the Pataki administration, has trumpeted this year’s Republican slate as “Bethlehem United.” The fact is the slate is an unremarkable union between Republicans and the kind of right-wingers who have contributed to the appalling dysfunction we have recently witnessed in Washington, D.C. For example, in an April 18, 2012 letter published in The Spotlight, Mr. DiMaggio stated that a that “a ‘NO’ vote on (the Bethlehem Central School District’s) budget is a positive vote for our kids, this school district and our town.” Thankfully for the students of Bethlehem, 62 percent of voters rejected Mr. DiMaggio’s “tea party” priorities then, and Bethlehem’s schools were recently ranked as the best in the Capital District. And Conservative Party Town Board candidate Linda Jasinki’s political views are even further to the right than Mr. DiMaggio’s. Imposing this fervent anti-government philosophy on our town would be disastrous.
The inclusion in Mr. DiMaggio’s Republican slate of Town Board candidate Dan Cunningham – brother of former supervisor Jack Cunningham – is evidence that “Bethlehem United” is simply the product of a back-room deal between ousted party bosses.
Although I did not initially support John Clarkson’s insurgent candidacy for supervisor in 2011, we both began serving on the Town Board in 2012. Since that time, I have come to know Supervisor Clarkson as a thoughtful and moderate pragmatist with a bias towards action, a willingness to challenge the status quo and an overriding objective of always doing what is in the best interest of the citizens of Bethlehem.
Mr. Clarkson previously worked for the state as an expert in local government efficiency and finance. The town has benefited immensely from Mr. Clarkson’s expertise over the past two years, during which time the town has reduced its workforce, consolidated ambulance services, established multiyear budgeting, enacted a model ethics law, and saved money through shared services and modernization while preserving crucial services. As a result of these and other significant reforms, Bethlehem was awarded $776,000 this year from the state Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program (the largest grant to any town in the state).
While we have accomplished a great deal over the past two years, there is much left to be done to continue the work of transforming Bethlehem into a model of municipal government. The next step is the re-election of Supervisor John Clarkson for two more years.
Jeffrey D. Kuhn