Editor, The Spotlight;
For quite a number of years, I have been religiously attending the budget meetings for the Bethlehem Central School District. For just as many years I have been ranting about the poor participation in both the meetings and the elections. I have also complained for years about the poor “Candidate debates” run by the League of Woman Voters.
On May 6 I attended the “Meet the Candidates Night” and nothing has changed. Aside from District staff and the candidates friends and families there was no one there to speak of. It is actually a disgraceful reflection on the Community. Only when someone’s ox is gored do people take notice and then usually only those who have been gored!
The rules of the League really allow for no real debate or direct questioning of the candidates. It is good training for the candidates since there is rarely any heated debate at open Board Meetings but does not really tell you much about the candidates! Life is not all conviviality. A serious but civil argument once in a while would be a blessing.
Being on the School Board is quite a sacrifice and the poor attention of the community does not do justice to their efforts. There are three seats open this year and my vote is going to:
• Matt Downey – Even when I do not agree with him, Matt has shown leadership and has the experience necessary in these tough times.
• Christine Beck – I am not easily impressed but I thought she handled herself very well in the “debate”. Remember that she was only 70 votes shy of winning a seat last year and many people felt she should have been appointed to the vacant seat.
• Jonathan S. Fishbein – I believe he would bring a little life to some of these Bored [sic] Discussions.
Lastly, from some of the questions posed at the meeting, it was evident that many people do not understand that many of the School District’s problems originate with the Governor, the Legislature and the Department of Education. These are completely outside of local control. Pensions, Tenure, Unfunded Mandates and a host of other rules and regs are what keeps the bureaucrats and politicians in business. If you keep re-electing the same people, do not expect different results.
Above all, please vote!
Philip W. Carter, of Slingerlands