March 28, 2013

Candidates struggle with turbines, framing of debate, at West Island debate

By Ariel Wittenberg | March 28, 2013 |

FAIRHAVEN – Incumbents urged voters to reject their challengers, who they called “the Windwise candidates,” at the West Island candidates night Wednesday.

“This is an election between the Windwise candidates and the candidates with experience in town government,” Brian Bowcock, running for re-election to the Board of Selectmen, said. “If you accept the Windwise candidates, it would be like turning town government upside down on its head.”

Incumbent Peter DeTerra supported that argument in his statement, saying the Board of Health is not meant to “hold hearings on personal medical issues,” something that has been repeatedly requested by those living near the turbines.

During their speeches, Bowcock and DeTerra were often interrupted by booing and coughing from roughly 15 members of Windwise attending the event.

Challengers for the boards of health and selectmen, John Wethington and Geoffrey Haworth, have each received upwards of $300 in contributions from the local Windwise chapter – a group of opponents to the town’s two controversial wind turbines – as well as personal donations from Windwise members this election, according to their campaign finance reports.

DeTerra’s opponent, Wethington, said the race was less about the turbines and more about the unresponsiveness of DeTerra toward the residents who claim the turbines have had an adverse effect on their health.

“I want to take the board in a new direction so that people with problems can come to the Board of Health without being fearful that they will not be heard,” he said.

Haworth, who is running against Bowcock, also said he wanted to “change business as usual” at Town Hall.

Alluding to reports this week that Bowcock had allegedly used his influence as selectman to try to have Windwise member Henry Ferreira disciplined at his job in Providence, Haworth said “All you have to do is pick up your morning paper the last few days and see we need a change.”

During his turn to field questions, DeTerra engaged in a shouting match with Ferreira, who tried to ask DeTerra about his role in Bowcock’s letter writing.

“Henry, this is not going to be personal,” DeTerra said. “I am not going to answer any personal questions. This is a personal vendetta against me.”

During Bowcock’s response to a question about elementary school buildings, Windwise members began to boo and cough, muttering that Bowcock appeared to be giving a more lengthy answer so time would run out before they had a chance to answer questions.

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