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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Town of Bethlehem Town Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The Town Board is an elected body that enacts town legislation, holds hearings, and passes resolutions on matters involving town government. It is responsible for adopting the annual budget, adopting and amending the town code and broadly addressing issues of concern to the citizens. Salary for this position is $15,266 per year.
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    DANEIL W COFFEY (WF) attorney

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    MAUREEN CUNNINGHAM (Dem, WF) Nonprofit Director

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    JAMES G FOSTER (Rep, Ind, Con, Ref) Attorney

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    GEORGE HARDER (Dem, Ind) Retired from New York State employment.

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Biographical Information

What have you done that qualifies you for this position?

If you are elected, what would you like to accomplish during your term in office?

Campaign Phone (518) 986-3323
Community Involvement Chair, Bethlehem Zoning Board of Appeals (2010-2017); Bethlehem Planning Board (2016); President, Albany County Bar Association (2016); former coach, Delmar Track & Field; officer, Bethlehem Democratic Committee; member, Sons of the American Legion; lector, St. Thomas Church; President, Albany County Bar Foundation (2017); former coach, Bethlehem Youth Soccer; attorney mentor, Bethlehem Youth Court
Experience and Qualifications I have been active as a volunteer and public servant in Bethlehem for many years. As zoning board chair, I oversaw consideration of variances for all residential and commercial projects in the Town. I personally traveled to every house or business that applied for variances so had the opportunity to assess each project in Town and visit all of our communities. I was a member of the Town's Comprehensive Plan Assessment Committee that reviewed the Town's Comprehensive Plan and made recommendations for changes. As Treasurer, and later, President, of the Albany County Bar Association, I oversaw restructuring of our pro bono programs and addressed a structural deficit our organization faced. My full-time job is as a practicing attorney, who co-founded the two-person law firm, Bowitch & Coffey, LLC, with practice areas in land use/planning, environmental and insurance litigation.
Biography Union College (BA, 1984); Columbia University (1986, Master in Public Administration); Georgetown Law Center (1990, JD). Worked for US Congressional Budget Office and General Accounting Office in Washington, DC while attending law school at night. Worked for various law firms since admission to bar in 1990, including Hiscock & Barclay (now named Barclay Damon) and, most recently, Bowitch & Coffey, LLC. Married with two teenage daughters, aged 19 and 14. Lived in central Delmar since 1999. Planning Board member in 2016 and was Chair of the Bethlehem Zoning Board 2010-2017 until I resigned a few weeks ago to run for Town Board.
Occupation and Special Skills Attorney with skill set in extensive reading, writing, analyzing legislation. Also run my own business as managing partner of a law firm. As Zoning Board Chair, I chaired the 5-person board meetings, following Roberts Rules of Order. As county bar officer, I assisted in the preparation of annual budget and reviewed monthly balance sheets and income statements.
Website, facebook page or other links facebook/
I have a strong background in both the public and private sectors. I am the managing partner of a law firm so have experience running a business. I also have a background in accounting and worked for both the US Congressional Budget Office and US General Accounting Office, as well as developing a budget annually for the Albany County Bar Association, so I would bring a strong background handling the Town's budget/financial issues. I believe my legal background would be an asset to the town as there currently are no attorneys on the Town Board. As a member of the Planning Board, and later Chair of the Zoning Board and member of the Town's Comprehensive Plan Assessment Committee, I had the opportunity to deal with a variety of land use issues, both residential and commercial. I have worked extensively with the Town's zoning code and Comprehensive Plan so am informed on land use/ open space preservation issues.
I would like to see our outdated and complex zoning code reviewed and simplified. The code must be updated to reflect the current communities in our town and to encourage mixed uses in the various areas in our town, including encouraging solar farms, and making commerical areas of our town business-friendly while respecting the goals of our comprehensive plan. I would like to see Vista Tech Park filled with businesses, either by aggressively marketing it to the tech sector or by re-branding it as a commercial, non-tech business park. I would pursue state and federal grants for addressing our infrastructure concerns, and installing more sidewalks to link our communities. I would explore building a multi-use stage in our town park for use by community theater and orchestra/bands. I would encourage Art on the Rail Trail and development of services along this multi-use trail, such as rest rooms and an ice cream stand. I would explore sources to create an open space preservation fund.
Campaign Phone (518) 469-4748
Community Involvement Board of Directors, Friends of Five Rivers; Member, Bethlehem Conservation Easement Review Board; Member, Bethlehem Waterfront Revitalization Advisory Group; Co-Chair of Green Committee, Hamagrael Elementary PTA; Former Member, Bethlehem Bike and Pedestrian Committee; professional career focused on working with communities on natural resource management, resilience building and strategic planning
Experience and Qualifications Over 20 years of nonprofit management experience. Active volunteer on social, environmental and youth causes. Master of Environmental Management from Yale University. Bachelor of Arts from The American University.
Biography Maureen Cunningham currently serves as the Executive Director of the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, a regional network working to ensure clean and abundant water supplies by partnering with community groups and local municipalities throughout the region. Through this work and over 20 years of experience, Maureen has developed a solid record in establishing strong partnerships and cultivating successful relationships with local government, business and nonprofit leaders. A native of Upstate New York, Maureen lives with her husband, Paul, and two young sons in Delmar. Driven by a personal belief that positive and lasting change begins at the local level, Maureen is an active volunteer, having served on the Friends of Five Rivers Board of Directors since 2011 and having led several PTA initiatives at Hamagrael Elementary School, including launching their popular Walk to School and Bike to School events. She has also served on various Town of Bethlehem committees such as the Bike and Pedestrian Committee and the Open Space Working Group, and currently is a member of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Advisory Group and the Conservation Easement Review Board. A graduate of Yale University and The American University, Maureen earned her master’s degree in Environmental Management and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. With a passion for the many community benefits and resources that the Town of Bethlehem has to offer, Maureen is committed to ensuring that we remain a safe, welcoming, and thriving place for residents, families and local businesses.
Occupation and Special Skills Nonprofit management and governance, Trained facilitator in participatory strategic planning, Grantwriting and fundraising, Communications and partnership building, Social marketing, Fluent in Spanish and French
Website, facebook page or other links, Facebook@ElectMaureenCunningham
My professional and volunteer work, in addition to a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from The American University, represents over 20 years dedicated to community-based natural resource protection, strategic planning, and nonprofit management. I have helped communities find economic tools to protect their natural resources, including the launch of new businesses. I have helped organizations become more effective, accountable and sustainable by balancing annual budgets and creating diversified and innovative funding streams. I believe in collaboration, and I pride myself on the number of lasting partnerships and working relationships I have forged throughout my career, which often starts with listening and establishing mutual trust. I now hope to bring some of these skills and lessons I have learned in my own career to the Bethlehem Town Board.
I will work to encourage a transparent, effective and accountable town government, built on communication, trust and open dialogue that respects the diversity of people and opinions we have in town. I will work to strengthen our vision for future growth reflected in our Comprehensive Plan and town code that preserves our incredible community character, quality of life, history, open space and the rights of individual landowners. I will encourage a fiscally responsible town government that ensures stability and growth and continues to deliver the incredible town services we rely on. I will support locally-owned and run businesses, and encourage a robust local economy. I hope to enhance opportunities for biking and walking and greater connectivity throughout town. I will work towards greater energy efficiency and waste reduction, moving towards the increased use of renewable energy sources.
Community Involvement Volunteer Firefighter with the Elsmere Fire Co. (2001 - Present) (Board of Directors, 2015 - Present); Member of the Bethlehem YMCA Advisory Council; Volunteer with Bethlehem Youth Courts; Member of the Bethlehem Republican Committee; Born and raised in Bethlehem and a graduate of Bethlehem Central High School; Fire Prevention Instructor for various school and daycare programs throughout the Elsmere Fire District
Experience and Qualifications Licensed attorney with experience training, overseeing and managing dozens of attorneys in complex commercial litigation; Former Auditor and Consultant for numerous governmental agencies, including the Department of Defenses, Federal Housing Authority and the United States Agency for International Development; Former Town of Bethlehem Employee with experience in the Parks & Recreation and Highway Departments; Worked for the Environmental Defense Fund providing legal advice while coordinating and consulting with economists, scientists and various industry experts
Biography A third generation resident of Bethlehem, Jim Foster has volunteered hundreds of hours serving the community in various capacities, including as a long-time member of the Elsmere Fire Company. After graduating from Bethlehem Central High School, Jim attended Georgetown University from which he graduated with honors with a dual major in Government and Psychology. While in college Jim earned his EMT certification and received hands-on medical training working in the Georgetown University Hospital Emergency Room. He continued on to employment as a Senior Auditor at UHY Advisors, where he was granted Top Secret security clearance and provided consulting services to various federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, at multiple civilian and military installations, including the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2007, Jim left UHY Advisors to attend Albany Law School, where he served on the Executive Board of the Albany Law Review and graduated with honors. He then accepted a position as a litigator in the Manhattan office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, a top international law firm. As a litigator, Jim worked on highly-complex commercial cases and managed a team of over 60 attorneys. While in Manhattan, Jim also worked pro bono on environmental policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. Jim received further executive legal and business training at Harvard University and was recognized by Legal Services NYC for his dedication to providing legal representation to the poor and underserved. In 2016, Jim joined Couch White, LLP as an attorney in the firm’s Corporate and Transactional group, and he currently lives at his home near Elsmere School. He sits on the Advisory Council of the Bethlehem YMCA and on the Board of Directors of the Elsmere Fire Company, where he also continues to serve as an active firefighter and “big brother” to several junior firefighters. Jim is well-known in the community for his volunteerism, approachable nature, wit, and sense of humor.
Occupation and Special Skills Licensed Attorney admitted to practice in New York; Held Top Secret Security Clearance granted by the Department of Defense; Former Certified Emergency Medical Technician; Interior Structure Firefighter
Website, facebook page or other links Facebook: Jim Foster for Bethlehem Town Board
As a licensed attorney and former auditor for numerous federal agencies, I have many professional and practical skills that would be assets to the Town Board. I was born and raised in Bethlehem and graduated from its public schools. My family has lived in Bethlehem since the 1940s and as a result I am very familiar with the community, its residents and character. I have previously worked for the Town in the both the Highway and Parks and Recreation Departments and have seen firsthand how these departments function. As a long-time volunteer firefighter, I have also worked closely with our local police and emergency medical personnel.

Much of my professional career has been advocating for and listening to clients, including many local businesses, and these are skills that I will bring to the Board.
First and foremost, I will ensure that the Town Board once again listens to and represents all viewpoints in the community, not just a narrow few. By respecting all views and tolerating dissenting opinions, I will improve the public discourse and ensure that issues are discussed and considered openly and honestly.

Furthermore, I will continue to oppose levying new property taxes, including the Real Estate Transfer Tax that would potentially cost Bethlehem homeowners thousands of dollars. As a third generation resident of Bethlehem, I know and appreciate our community's open spaces and unique character and am dedicated to protecting and preserving both for future generations. For example, we must revisit the Town's Comprehensive Plan that has guided Bethlehem's growth in a direction that many residents are not happy with.
Campaign Phone (518) 439-5863
Community Involvement St. Thomas Seniors luncheon volunteer; former St. Thomas Pastoral Council President; former St. Thomas Confirmation Catechist and Youth Group leader for 20 years; former Albany Academy Alumni Association Board member; former Bethlehem Community Christmas Dinner Hospitality chair for 15 years.
Experience and Qualifications Bethlehem Democratic Committee member for 20 years and officer for 8 years; previously a Town Board and Receiver of Taxes candidate; Zoning Board of Appeals member 2012-2015.
Biography I was born in Albany in 1953, moved to Kentucky and California, and returned to Bethlehem in 1961. I attended Hamagrael Elementary, BC Junior High and graduated from Albany Academy. I attended Cornell University for Engineering and Siena College for Business. As a St. Thomas Youth Group leader, I traveled with our young adults to West Virginia and Kentucky to help build homes for impoverished families. Later, I traveled twice to Tampico, Mexico to serve a poor, struggling parish. I have visited several Caribbean and European countries as well as Kenya twice experiencing various cultures and learning to appreciate the differences in people.
Occupation and Special Skills During 14 years of employment at the Division of Lottery I gained increasingly responsible accounting experience including straightening out a district office that had suffered through a scandal. While employed at the Department of Taxation and Finance I became knowledgeable in most business tax types and at the end of my career, I was responsible for testing many new applications developed for the department.
I have worked tirelessly for 20 years to elect Democratic candidates at all levels of state government including Senator Breslin and Assemblymember Fahy. As a Zoning Board of Appeals member I took seriously the responsibility to enforce the town zoning code to ensure the quality of life in Bethlehem was maintained and to make sure our town remained a desirable place to live.
I intend to introduce local legislation to prohibit revaluation of undeveloped land and agricultural land, other than at a bona fide sale, to promote the preservation of green space and because farming is the lifeblood of our world. I will advocate local legislation to provide all residential real estate to be assessed based on an average value per square foot, to be revalued only upon a bona fide sale, rather than as is done under the current capricious assessment system. I will urge our local State legislators to enact a law to enable local legislation that allows senior citizens to opt out of paying the burdensome school tax. I will work to update and revise the Comprehensive Plan and the Zoning Codes. logo


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