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Hirschey defeats White in Cape Vincent; victory for anti-wind group

Town supervisor Urban C. Hirschey defeated challenger Harvey J. White, who ran on the Conservative line, 518-388 Tuesday in what appeared to be a victorious night for Cape Vincent’s anti-wind group.

In the race for Town Council, Wind Power Ethics Group member Clifford J. Schneider, with 471, led the pack in a tight race. Incumbent and wind lease holder Marty T. Mason received 453 votes, just ahead of Republican WPEG member John L. Byrne, with 448 votes. Incumbent Donald J. Mason, also a wind-power advocate, polled 423.

However, with 503 absentee ballots issued, many of them to seasonal residents who registered to vote in Cape Vincent and who nearly exclusively supported Mr. Hirschey in the Republican primary, the anti-wind forces appear confident they will control the council.

“I think you’ll see a lot of changes in our local government,” Mr. Hirschey, a Republican and past member of WPEG, said late Tuesday. “Will there be a wind moratorium? Probably. You’ll just have to come to our January meeting to find out.”

Mr. White, who represented the pro-wind population, said the results did not come as a surprise and he believes a majority of the absentee votes will go to the anti-wind candidates.

“If the town has about 480 absentee votes, they’ve probably got 400 and we probably have 80,” Mr. White said.

A grass-roots registration drive recruited close to 300 seasonal residents to sign up to vote; Cape Vincent ended up with more voters this year than in the 2008 presidential election.

Threatened by the unprecedented spike in “seasonal voters,” proponents of wind, most of them year-round residents, had submitted a petition to the town board against the “voter fraud.”

Cape Vincent’s pro-wind town board members, including the Masons, who ran on the Conservative Party line, in August passed a law to prevent seasonal residents from voting by checking their driver’s licenses at the polls. The board quickly rescinded the law after state and county election officials and the town attorney said it violated state law.

Regarding Mr. Hirschey’s plan to pass a moratorium on wind development to create a wind zoning law, Mr. White said that plan would “backfire” on the new town board because wind farm developers are likely to submit another application for the state to consider under the state-controlled Article X, essentially stripping Cape Vincent of home rule.

“I’m not upset,” said Mr. White, who as co-owner of White Farm holds contracts with both the St. Lawrence Wind Farm and the Cape Vincent Wind Farm projects. “I think the people of Cape Vincent will regret this later.”

Anti-wind blogs have convinced people that Mr. Hirschey, Mr. Byrne and Mr. Schneider have the town’s best interest in mind, but those candidates ran a one-issue campaign to support WPEG, Mr. White said.

“These people, they’re trying to change what the Cape is. They want to change it into what they want it to be,” he said.