83rd District hopefuls discuss wind farm development at public forum
While state legislators have no real say in whether wind developers can come into the state, the three candidates for the 83rd House District seat offered their opinions Thursday on what should be done to help improve the situation.
The candidates are Dave Burke of Marysville, Jack Reser of Bellefontaine and Carson Wasserbeck of New Bloomington. All three are Republicans running in a race that will be decided in the March 4 primary election.
Mr. Burke, 40, said the state should help small government entities like township trustees deal with large corporations while Mr. Reser, 47, disagreed, saying that local bodies should be free from state interference in their decision-making process.
Mr. Wasserbeck, 32, said the state needs to better research alternative energy sources and determine which ones are appropriate before offering incentives to developers.
Their comments came at a meet-the-candidates night hosted by the Wind Truth Alliance group that opposes wind farm development in Logan County. The event also included videos of residents of Pennsylvania and Maine discussing issues they have dealt with since wind farms came to their communities.
“The issue arises because of how township zoning works,” said Mr. Burke, a pharmacy owner and former Marysville councilman. “That’s its weakness and it’s why a lot of big corporations pick townships rather than municipalities to do business with. I think the state needs to help townships fill in the gaps.
“Working with large developers to design and review plans is not the forte of township officials,” he said. “All across the state, it’s costing money and headaches and the state needs to aid townships in those kinds of issues.”
Mr. Reser, a shoe store owner and current Logan County commissioner, disagreed, noting that those closest to the issue should be solely responsible for making decisions.
“Whether it’s as a state representative or a county commissioner, I don’t think we should be forcing our opinions on township trustees,” he said. “The answers are not in Columbus the same way they are not in the commissioners’ office. They are here in the townships.”
He said the philosophy is part of his larger campaign, which revolves around scaling back state-level government and reducing taxes and corporate tax incentive packages to make Ohio a less expensive place to live and do business.
And Mr. Wasserbeck, a Honda crash technician and member of the Elgin Board of Education, said he believes in investigating alternative energy sources, but decisions on which ones to support must be well planned.
“To be honest, when I was first approached, I thought this would be a great thing. How could anyone be against free energy?” he said. “But as I continued to do more research on shadow flicker and wind noise I realized these are true because they do affect people.”
And offering tax incentives to wind developers is not the right move at this time, Mr. Wasserbeck said. “We’ve got too much evidence that some of this technology may not be there yet.”
Tom Stacy, a local resident who opposes wind development, said he believes the state does need to be involved with local issues as significant as wind farm development, especially because the state is offering tax incentives for wind farms to build in Ohio.
“The bulk of my work has been at the state level in the past several months,” Mr. Stacy said. “When you see township after township going through this, it is carbon-copy misery. We are imploring the state public utilities commission to please build a fire circle before passing out the matches and gasoline.”
The candidates also addressed their stances on major statewide issues. All three cited finding an equitable way to fund education as a priority.
Additionally, Mr. Wasserbeck stressed green energy policies and small business issues as his main concerns. Mr. Burke focused on health care and improving the state’s economic base through workforce development. Mr. Reser said Ohio is in an “economic tailspin” that could best be addressed by major tax reform.
Monroe Township resident Duane Hartzler said he has not made his mind up on which candidate to support.
“I was glad to hear the position of everyone. They all stated their views and threw them out there for everyone to consider,” he said. “But I’m the type of person who usually waits until the last minute to decide.”
By Reuben Mees
2 February 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding