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Without a challenger, campaigns fail

Commentary: Dangers with uncontested races

I recently wrote a letter critical of a mailing in the recent election to point out that erasing someone is not the way to safeguard the two-party system. The two-party system depends on having two parties.

The state of democracy in Chautauqua County is so feeble that without cooperation the smaller party may not even put in the work to run. We saw this with all the uncontested races in the last election.

Running a campaign is a lot of work. I am asking the party in power to be generous and say, “I need an opponent to have a campaign.” The campaign is important. It’s a time to connect with constituents. A time for candidates to listen to their community and learn what their concerns are. A time to tell them where you stand. Yes, getting elected is easier when you don’t have an opponent, but is it good for us?

Lack of participation is at the core of our current turbine trouble. Years ago when the turbines were first proposed there was a group opposing them. The group in favor of the turbines had held offices in the towns for many years.

They were voted in without much competition. There was no effective opposition and not enough discussion of what it will be like to live under a 600-foot tall whirligig. The blades cause flickering of sunlight. It’s like having the sun shine on you through a slowly revolving fan. Like any moving machine it vibrates at many frequencies some so low they can not be heard only felt. We don’t know what health effects there may be from this. It has never been studied.

We need a study to prove one way or another what the turbines are doing to us. We need get a baseline of the health of our community before the Turbines are installed. We need to compare that with people’s health after the turbines are installed.

Right now there is no proposal for such a study. No seismic equipment is being installed to measure the background vibrations before the construction starts, the construction itself and then the turbine in use.

The University of Buffalo has an earthquake studies program. They have all the equipment and the people needed to conduct such a study. Without a health study we can not be sure of what effects there really are. The turbine company and the politicians, the town clerk and town supervisor, don’t want this study. They would much rather keep us in the dark.

We are only going to get this study if we demand it.

We must demand that our politicians — on all levels, the town clerk, the County Legislature and the County Executive — get to work and find some money for this study. Yes, it’s going to be really expensive. There is money for all kinds of useless things like the roundabout. We must demand resources be invested in us, the taxpayer.

Marie Tomlinson is a Fredonia resident.

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