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Campaigns powered by Windwise donations

FAIRHAVEN – Wind turbine opponents again are taking an active role in this election season, donating both time and money to challengers in races for the Board of Selectmen and Board of Health.

Geoffrey Haworth, running for selectman, and John Wethington, running for the Board of Health, each received upwards of $3,000 in donations since they signed up to run for office, one-third of which came from outspoken turbine opponents.

Windwise, a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates the “responsible siting” of wind turbines and opposes the two in Fairhaven, has donated $350 to Wethington and $315 to Haworth, according to the candidates’ campaign finance reports.

Donors to Wethington and Haworth include residents active in the Fairhaven Windwise branch. Both candidates have received donations from members Louise Barteau, Curt Devlin, Kenneth Pottel and others, as well as donations from Ann DeNardis, who represented 23 residents in a lawsuit against the town opposing the turbines.

Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon while he was going door to door urging residents to support Haworth and Wethington, Windwise member Pottel said he supports the challengers because “they will be more open and have a more open dialogue.”

“It’s about transparency and openness, not about Windwise,” he said.

Pottel pointed out that unlike last year, when three Windwise members ran for public office and won, this year the organization’s members are supporting other candidates who are running.

Both Haworth and Wethington said they are not affiliated with Windwise and made it clear they have received donations from other sources. Both said they would not support measures to remove the turbines.

“I have talked to Windwise and I’ve made it clear to them that I will listen to them and I will work to find solutions but I’m not going to vote to take down the turbines,” Haworth said.

The two challengers have raised considerably more money this year than their incumbent opponents, selectmen Chairman Brian Bowcock and Board of Health member Peter DeTerra.

This year, Bowcock has raised $50, but also had $3,836 in donations at his disposal from previous campaigns, according to his campaign finance report. So far, Bowcock has spent $800 and Haworth $3,135.

With $68 left over from previous campaigns, DeTerra has received $863 this year and has spent a total of $1,252, resulting in a $389 deficit. His opponent Wethington has spent $1,686 of the more than $3,000 he has received this year.

Neither Bowcock nor DeTerra responded to requests for comment.

Haworth and Wethington attributed their successful fundraising to a willingness to be approachable if they are elected.

“I’m going to bring a more open and honest approach to the whole town government issue,” Wethington said. “That’s why (Windwise) is backing us; they have been ignored by current officials for so long.”

Haworth took it one step further, saying his opponent Bowcock had ignored Windwise for so long that, “They would vote for anyone running against him no matter who it was.”

“Let’s be totally honest here,” Haworth said. “They aren’t going to support Brian Bowcock no matter what. It’s not necessarily about me. But has that helped me? Of course, it has.”