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Will gas drilling turn any elections?


October 26, 2011

While there are many issues facing elected officials this year, including in New York the reality of the newly imposed two percent property tax cap and reduced municipal revenues from taxes and other sources, the issue that stands out most is gas drilling: are you for or against, and where do you stand?

For some politicians, the best answer is to say they are neutral, such as Gary Maas the current supervisor in Cochecton, or undecided, such as Tusten supervisor Peg Harrison. For some residents in those towns, those positions have not been acceptable. In both cases, residents have persistently called on their supervisor to take a stand one way or the other.

In past years in Cochecton, Maas, who is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines and has no opponent on the Democratic line, would have likely faced no opponent. But with passions about gas drilling running high, political newcomer Claudine Luschinger has mounted a campaign for Maas’ job on the Rural Heritage line.

In Tusten, Harrison, a Democrat, who is also running on the Conservative line, would have faced a tough challenge from Republican council member Carol Wingert regardless of the gas drilling issue, because the two have faced off on numerous issues in the past two years. Wingert, who is also running on the Independence and Rural Heritage lines, has said that she is opposed to gas drilling.

But in this race, too, the gas drilling issue has produced an unexpected result: another candidate. Andrea Reynosa is running only on the Rural Heritage line, which is generally presumed to be anti-fracking, for a seat on the town council. In answers to questionnaires sent to the candidates by The River Reporter, both Wingert and Reynosa listed gas drilling as one of their top two issues.

The gas drilling issue has been prominent in just about all of the towns in Western Sullivan County. In the Town of Delaware, current council member Republican Ed Sykes, who is running for
supervisor, has said publicly he is in favor of gas drilling if the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation says it can be done safely. His opponent, Stephan Lundgren, running on the Democratic line, says local zoning provisions should be adopted that “regulate, restrict, or prohibit inappropriate and undesirable uses.”

This is a good article

I just returned from the zoning committee hearing in Tusten Township tonight. The committee voted unanimously to adopt some version of Article 14, that would ban, or strictly regulate heavy industry (shale gas extraction) in the Township.

I don't know Peg Harrison (what exactly is a "conservative democrat" in Tusten?), but how can she be "undecided" on shale gas extraction? We have had more than three and a half years to evaluate the situation. Is Tusten compatible with "heavy industrial" development (open air, shale gas extraction, the rate of which is determined by the market, and under regulated by our pathetically addicted governments) certainly qualifies in that category.

If she is undecided, she should be voted out of office. This is a passionate divide, and voters have the right to know how she will vote on this zoning issue.