Supervisor candidates meet in debate

Budget, leadership, level of partisanship recurring themes during lively evening

Candidates in the Democratic primary for Bethlehem supervisor met in debate on Thursday, Sept. 1.

Candidates in the Democratic primary for Bethlehem supervisor met in debate on Thursday, Sept. 1. Rachel Brennan

View video of the entire debate.

The meeting room of Bethlehem Town Hall was packed Thursday, Sept. 1, as the two candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary for the office of town supervisor met for a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Spotlight Newspapers that featured some verbal sparring but also frank discussions about the town's past, present and future.

John Clarkson and Kyle Kotary made opening and closing statements and fielded 14 questions provided by the audience and relayed by Spotlight Newspapers Managing Editor William R. DeVoe. These covered a wide range of topics, and by the end, the differences between the candidates’ platforms — or perhaps more accurately, their opinion of the town's position and path — were laid bare.

Kotary pointed often to his more than five years on the Town Board as experience that makes him an ideal candidate for the office of supervisor. Clarkson countered that the current state of things in town is the very reason his opponent shouldn’t be given more responsibility.

“We both agree on much of the issues that have to be addressed. The unfortunate thing is they have not been addressed,” Clarkson said. “We need change in Bethlehem's town government.”

Kotary described himself as a consensus builder.

“As a member of the Bethlehem Town Board I have fought to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family,” he said. “I believe we can have local government that is innovative, progressive and fiscally responsible.”

The primary race is of great importance to both candidates. If Kotary emerges on top he’ll be the presumptive incoming supervisor, as he would hold all party lines except the Working Families Party line and the Conservative Party line, the latter of which is open as an opportunity to ballot in the primary.

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