Wind power has turned the race for Cape Vincent town supervisor into perhaps the most contentious and controversial political campaign in the North Country.
“Everybody’s chosen sides. You’re either for windmills or you’re against windmills,” said local resident Harvey White.
The race for supervisor pits four-term Democratic incumbent Thomas Rienbeck against Republican John DeFrancesco.
Both support wind power development for the town.
However, the candidates’ political signs have been defaced or stolen.
There have been accusations of conflicts of interest and allegations of dirty politics.
Then there’s the Wind Power Ethics Group, which is suing the town zoning board.
The suit challenges the town’s zoning law that allows windmills within agricultural and residential zones.
“Had it not been for outside pressures of this anti-wind power group, there would be zoning regulations in place in Cape Vincent today,” said Rienbeck.
Some members of the Wind Power Ethics Group have backed DeFrancesco, who said he also has the votes of wind power supporters, Republicans and even Democrats.
“I’m for wind turbines, but they have to be done correctly. If they’re not done correctly and we don’t have good leadership, we will not reach the potential and it’ll be a disaster for us,” said DeFrancesco.
Wind power is also affecting certain members of the town council, who have been advised to abstain from voting on wind farm development due to conflicts of interest.
Two of the council members are seeking reelection and are being challenged by candidates who say they have no conflicts of interest.
“The whole atmosphere of Cape Vincent is one of community and that’s what I hope we get back to after the situation is resolved here,” said local resident Mary Hamilton.
2 November 2007
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