FAIRHAVEN – Registered Nurse John Wethington has thrown his hat into the Board of Health race, citing a “lack of compassion” on the board for residents living near the town’s two turbines.
Wethington, who has worked in health care for 20 years, said he is concerned about how the Board of Health has treated turbine abutters’ complaints of adverse health effects.
“It really bothers me that no one is listening to these people,” he said. “They feel forgotten by their town, which is a tragedy in and of itself.”
Wethington, who is running against nine-year Board of Health veteran Peter DeTerra, said he is not in any way affiliated with the group WindWise, which opposes the town’s two wind turbines.
“I live a good 2 miles away from the turbines; they do not affect me at all,” he said. “But I know from my work as a nurse that for every 50 people complaining about a symptom, there are 100 people affected by it who are just trying to tough it out.”
When asked about his challenger, DeTerra said “I don’t really know why he is running.”
“Communications is not a weakness for this board,” he said. “People asked for turbine complaint forms; we gave them turbine complaint forms. People asked for a state sound study and we are giving them a state sound study.
“I just ask the public to be patient with me.”
Outspoken WindWise member Curt Devlin said he had taken out papers to run against DeTerra but decided against running once he learned of Wethington’s candidacy.
“I just wanted to avoid allowing Peter DeTerra running unopposed,” he said. “I’m not the best person for it, though. Really, I think someone who has professional health care credentials should be on the board.”
DeTerra, who owns an excavation business, said he was not concerned about his lack of medical background. He said that in addition to the turbines, the Board of Health is also responsible for recycling around town and inspecting the town’s restaurants.
“We are not a one-issue board,” he said. “There are many things we have to deal with that I have experience in from being on the board so long.”
Wethington, who was born in New Bedford and has lived in Fairhaven for 20 years, said he recognizes that turbines are not the only issue for the board but that “They are the elephant in the room these days.”
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