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Keesler to challenge Canfield in Damascus

April 28, 2011

Dolores Keesler has decided to conduct a write-in campaign for the office of supervisor against Joe Canfield. Keesler, who was until recently the Damascus Township representative to the Upper Delaware Council and the president of that body for two months, was removed from her position at the instigation of Damascus supervisor Joe Canfield, with the agreement of the other two supervisors. Justifying the move, Canfield said “Just say that she doesn’t represent the whole township, that’s all.”

“Many in the township were appalled at the way I was removed from the position, and I think they will support me in this election,” Keesler said.

The time for officially seeking a position on the primary ballot has expired. Keesler said, however, that both Democratic districts in the township will support her efforts to become a write-in Candidate. Keesler said that she will attempt to mail a notice to all 3,000 voters in the district—Democrats and Republicans—to write her name in on the primary election on May 17.

Drilling Referendum

This township supervisor election will prove to be the perfect referendum on drilling. If Keesler is elected, then obviously anti drilling crowd out numbers the pro drilling crowd as the DCS claims it does in Damascus. If Canfield gets re-elected, as I suspect he overwhelmingly will, then it is clear that pro drilling is the will of the true Damascus citizenry. I see some anti drillers have already braced for failure by offering the excuse that a write in campaign is dificult. Let me please remind you that Canfield himself was originally a write in candidate!

The Ballot structure is fine.

All she had to do to get on the ballot was get her paperwork in by the deadline. She did not. Mr. Canfield did. It does not get much simpler. The thought process that blames the ballot structure is rather faulty. This is a democracy and it is working well. She still can campaign and get elected. She can, but she will not, get elected that is.

Dolores Keesler your tax dollars go toward supporting the idea that decisions affecting our lives should be made in back rooms by people who are barely literate and who are owned by foreign interests and big corporations? You've decided Dolores won't win? Wow, you must be a very powerful person to know the future.
Dolores never opinionated at the UDC. But somehow her candidacy is now about a line in the sand rather than a crossroads? If you were opposed to something that threatened your welfare and you knew you were up against powerful corporations but still you had a chance at the local level to protect your own safety from irreparable harm, would you want some one there asking questions for you??? Are you so small and so closed minded that you think you are getting the government you deserve. After all you pay taxes don't you? Or, do you? All Dolores ever did was ask some key questions which was her responsibility to do. It takes courage to run in an election, especially when, once elected, the official has to serve even people as biased and ill informed as you. But I would want some one there who hopes to do the right thing, not something that will line their pockets. Becoming a supervisor means a whole lot more than facilitating or not facilitating people's personal agendas. But then you probably wouldn't know that. And, by the way, this isn't the first time Damascus maneuvered to time a decision with an election deadline...think about it, if you have the mental agility. How much time was she given to prepare to get on the ballot???


We are discussing the election process in Damascus. It has been a reasonable exchange of thoughts, until this last post. Comments like " your tax dollars go toward supporting the idea that decisions affecting our lives should be made in back rooms by people who are barely literate and who are owned by foreign interests and big corporations" seem a tad bit demeaning, and possibly even perjorative?

How much time has Ms. Keesler had to get on the ballot? Probably every day since she turned 21 right up to the deadline to file. Those against drilling have known this election was scheduled. It is not a surprise. It has not the result of backroom deals. Why are those against drilling not fighting for every elective postion in the county? Some would suggest the inability to get elected is a likely reason. We all support Ms. Keesler's right to campaign as a write-in candidate. That is democracy, and it works. If she wins, it will be a strong statement for those against drilling. If she loses, it will not mean the deck was stacked, democracy failed, or the fix was in. Many of us hold the Damascus voters' intelligence in higher regard than does Swiftsophistictate. People that vote for someone other than the candidate you support are not idiots, or even wrong. They are simply expressing their differing opinion through their constitutional right. How can that be bad? It is the essence of Democracy.


I think you have to be on the witness stand to be considered perjorative. Is that how you see freedom of expression?
You make too many assumptions without having the facts. No one can say, not even you, how a potential loss by this candidate will be viewed. You are assuming it will be addressed by the anti-drllers as a stacked deck. That in itself is disrespectful because you think people whether for or against can't see the whole picture. What I'm saying is that Dolores' candidacy is larger than the agenda of those who are against drilling. You evidently haven't been paying attention to how Damascus Township has demeaned the position of Supervisor for the last thirty years. If you travel around the state, around 70% of township supervisors have been educated in local government, apply the Municipal Code in positive ways instead of something to hide behind for personal agendas and leave the business of managing to managers instead of haphazard last minute decisions made by a barely audible "grunt" when it's time to vote. Other townships are open and willing to enlighten the public at meetings about how and why things work the way they do. You see nothing of that in Damascus. It has been "them against us" for years and this issue is just a larger one than those in the past. I really don't think you've been there and witnessed what you're not getting. Democracy is what this is all about. It is refreshing to see you can bring this up. If we disagree about other things at least we agree on this one point. Maybe it's something to build on. I don't see Dolores' potential win as a strong statement aginst drilling. I see it as a way to elevate the capabilities of our Town Board. Please understand, while the issue of drilling has become our current pre-occupation, a township is defined by more than just that. Personally, safety and protection from harm, irreparable damage to our water resources is my own main concern. That is me...I do not wish to speak for anyone else. We have lost millions in property values because people exercised their freedom to sign away on leases. We will never get that back because the leases run with the land. We've lost so much already. If and when the drilling starts, which I am fully aware that it could, our lives will be changed forever in ways that you can't even imagine. Do I think that Dolores Keesler has some sort of power to change all that? Not at all. I think that supporting her is a way to encourage dialogue, especially if this is still a free democracy as you say. It is a pleasure sparring with you.


This paper is the source of the term "perjorative" in regards to comments. Read the "Comments on Comments" editorial. Pretty much, they want us to play nicely and not resort to insults, or derogatory terms like henchmen, or barely literate. You state that "We have lost millions in property values because people exercised their freedom to sign away on leases." This paper says that it does not allow unsubstantiated statements of fact. The fact is many investors have left Wayne County to purchase in other water sheds where drilling is allowed. More than a few realtors have confided that buyers/investors do not want to purchase in the DRB, which has decreased the value of property. Not drilling has cost us money.

The next question to you is what is your solution to the energy needs of this country? Where should our energy orginate, in who's backyard, and at who's expense?

The suggestion that Ms. Keesler's candidacy is not a referendum is quite possibly a red herring tossed out to garner her some pro-drilling votes, as well as an attempt to blur the line that has been clearly drawn in the sand. It is greatly appreciated that you are civil and thoughful in your posts. That allows these forums, as well as democracy in general, an opportunity to work.


I regret that you sense a "red herring" pretty much behind every turn. You don't know me, so please don't make that assumption. Obviously our histories here and our life experiences have afforded us different perspectives. I disagree with the idea that "investors" scrambled to other areas where drilling is a "happening". Please know that the "investors" I have been serving for my entire life, those who supported local contractors, ate in local restaurants and bought in local shops are the ones who footed the bills and kept our values high without costing our resources. People seem to forget that they came only wanting to live in a clean, wild and unspoiled environment. They paid premuim prices with no agenda to "drill baby drill". I know you probably think I'm naive. But what was wrong with that? When landowners here decided to move on, move south, leave behind something for their children, they were leaving something that was worth much more at the end than what they had paid in the beginning. Those are the millions I'm talking about. Anyway, as for alternative energy, I'm the "suspicious" one. I feel that the billions of dollars spent on filling the pockets of arms manufacturers, oil and gas companies and government contracts to big powerful corporations could have turned us into independent consumers by developing solar, wind, bio, thermal and hydro power. We CAN do it. But we're not all on the same page. Politically, it can't work because voters who believe in it can't match the millions spent by lobbyists from the corporations. We're too busy trying to climb out of debt and pay their rising gas prices. These are kin to the corporations who ran off with billions in investment fraud, banking fraud and credit card rates. I'm sorry, I could go on. But you have fueled an open dialogue and that's what matters here: people like us trying to find some common ground. I haven't signed leases at a time when I've needed the money so badly. I guess it's way too idealistic to hope that people love this land like I do, that they insist on tightening the loop holes in the energy bill so that we can deal with removing the chemicals and fluids that they don't want us to know about, that the streams won't be filled with waste, that retention ponds won't leak because of poor workmanship, that our wells won't wreak of methane. For me, no matter how bad things are, it isn't worth it. I wouldn't do it to my neighbor either. Thanks for this.

Supporting Locals

The economy of the area has been on the decline for many years. The elementary school in Lakewood has an enrollment of less than half of what it once had. People of child rearing age have been leaving the area for a generation or more. Why? The jobs offered by weekenders and vacationers are not enough to sustain an economy. Tourism has always been important to the area, but has never been the dominate force in jobs and careers, especially away from the river corridor. How many of the people that you speak with that are against drilling hope, and expect, to have their children and/or grandchildren make their careers in Wayne County? That is the acid test for how you feel about a community. It may be a nice place to visit and look at the scenery, but can, and will your kids make a good living here? Do you want them to even try? What do you see them doing? TheNatural sees a community aging as the younger and especially the better educated among us need to leave the area to find employment. Tourism, nice as it is, will not alter it, or even slow it. It hasn't for the past twenty years and there is no reason to think it will do so now. We have always relied on agriculture and industry, timbering, quarrying, cutting props, etc. They are still important, but are no longer able to sustain the economy. Times change, but the need for food and shelter does not. Wayne County is at a crossroads.

Times Do Change

Yes they certainly do. And what were we doing while they were changing? Adapting?
You are right to say that tourism was never the industry it could or should have been. When people settled here they did so because of the virgin timber resource. When that dried up or was no longer a viable commodity, they were left with marginal land for subsistence farming. This was never a Lancaster County where the soil was premium. That's not to say there weren't smart farmers who did well. But their children, long ago, saw opportunity elsewhere. And when they went off to get their degrees, many did not return. I'm talking over fifty years ago. People who stayed were either at the mercy of price controls on dairy or low paying jobs metered out by few private and county employers.We needed leadership. We still do.
When people tried to enlighten town and county boards about emerging industries like tech based companies, did they go out and court them? Why not? Did they offer huge tax incentives to bring the higher paying jobs here? No. Why? Because they would have had to concede the employees who were getting less money. Think about who sat on our local boards. Can you think of anyone who was out there shopping around to save our struggling economy. I mean really dedicating a task force. And when good people tried to bring the ideas and solutions to them they turned the other way or it went completely over their heads.That's why I'm so frustrated. We were ripe for the picking. The energy corporations knew our economy was teetering. When they designed the energy bill with the loopholes, they knew that people hungry to make some money would be willing to accept its omission of accountability.
Other areas of the country got the low impact "clean" industries and they are thriving still, even in this economy. I agree with you that tourism was never the solution. Most people who paid premium prices for their properties left during the week and even during the long winters. Not enough to sustain a real economy. Most made the return on their investments when they cashed out.
So all I'm saying is that I want some leadership, some one who is not afraid to ask important questions. For all I know, Dolores might have signed a lease herself. And, if she did, I think even more highly of her for wanting people to be safe. Did you read the list of chemicals that are "disclosed"? What about the "proprietary" list? If it's proprietary, why is it available to so many companies but not us? I think people should have gotten together in the beginning and said, "Sure, we'll sign leases. But not until you use safe chemicals and green technology." They might have packed up their dolls and dishes and went elsewhere and what does that say about them?
Well, I guess I've gone on again. But I still think it's good that we can share these thoughts. This country was founded by diverse peoples coming together. Think of the enormity of that undertaking. Here we are, however different, and we can't come together to find a way for everyone to be protected from harm and not wind up at the mercy of big corporations.

It is a shame

Democracy is not served by our ballot structure, in this case. It is a shame that Ms. Keesler has to become a write in candidate. The odds of that succeeding are overwhelming, as her name will not appear on the ballot.

Still, I hope that Mr. Canfield's poor behavior is understood by the voters in Damascus, and that they make the extra effort needed to vote him out.