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Funny business in Bethel

August 25, 2011

The Bethel Democratic Committee would like to comment publicly on the attempt of Howard Block to run on five party lines in this September’s primary for Town Judge.

The people of Bethel deserve a clear choice in this election. Mr. Block has clouded the process. The committee finds his effort to do this highly questionable. Cindy Barber, endorsed by the Working Families Party and a Democratic candidate, and Susan Harte, endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, have both worked hard to receive these endorsements. Though Mr. Block may be legally able to run on five lines (Ms. Harte is challenging this in court and awaits decision), he has not worked for the endorsements, but rather has used a technicality in the law to do so. This loophole is obviously available to Barber and Harte, yet they rightly chose not to use this avenue.

In addition, the committee finds Mr. Block’s reasons for taking this action reprehensible. When questioned as to why he was doing this, his response was that he “felt abandoned by the Bethel Democratic Committee.” He assumed that, because he was the incumbent, the committee’s support would be automatic. As explained to Mr. Block in May of this year, it is the committee’s policy that in any race where there is a primary, support would be withheld until the voters of Bethel spoke in that primary (September 13). As an example, the committee is following its policy and is doing this in the council race where Vicky Simpson and Bob Blais, both incumbents, face a primary with Bernie Cohen. The committee’s position was taken out of a sense of fairness and inclusivity for all candidates. We are not the Bethel Democratic incumbent committee. This principled approach obviously did not sit well with Mr. Block. It is he who has abandoned the Bethel Democratic Committee, not the other way around. The voters of Bethel should be aware of this when casting their ballots in September, on however many lines he appears.

Steve White, Vice-Chair
Bethel Democratic Committee
Bethel, NY