Letters to the Editor (Norwich Evening Sun)
Letter to Oxford voters. . .more choices in September
by Marjorie Rogers, Oxford
My father was Mayor of Oxford while I was attending Oxford Academy in the 1950s. The Village Board ticket on which he ran included two other candidates for Trustees. There was no opposition and, wisely, the Democratic and Republican Parties cross endorsed each others’ candidates based on qualification not affiliation, the way community leaders should be chosen.
However, uncontested ballots can have negative outcomes as well. Regrettably, most Oxford Town Board and many Oxford Village Board elections have been uncontested, including those that produced the present five member Town Board.
This year, for the first time in quite a while, three incumbents on the Oxford Town Board face strong challengers. The September 10th Republican Primary especially offers real choices. Long-time Republican residents Paul Brennan and Ron Charles are running against incumbent John Hofmann. Hofmann, along with the other four members of the Town Board, has been dodging any discussion of Oxford’s preparations for gas drilling. I know because I, along with other citizens, have been attending Town Board meetings this past year.
The following facts may be hard to believe, but for more than a year the three incumbents and remaining two Board members have refused to answer more than 100 written questions from voters about town-wide, industrialized hydraulic fracturing and its potential threats to our health, safety and welfare. That is irresponsible. Regardless of party affiliation, it’s bad government to not address issues brought to them by the people who elected them.
Republican challengers Paul Brennan and Ron Charles will support a year-long moratorium, not a ban, on gas drilling. It will give all town and village residents an opportunity to study, discuss and decide an issue that will profoundly affect many generations to come. It will enable our representives on the Town Board to make an informed decision based on the input of all citizens, not just a small minority who may profit from fracking.
It’s called American Democracy.
Democrat Larry Beckwith, a well-respected member of the community, may seek the nomination for re-election at the September 12th Democratic Caucus. As a Democrat I’d like to vote for him, but at the end of his four years on the Board, I have no idea where he stands on the critical issues in this election. His contributions to Board discussions during meetings I’ve attended have been sparse and he has not responded to the issues that so concern the people of Oxford. This is not in the best interest of the people.
This election is the opportunity to make a needed change.
Ron Charles and Paul Brennan are also running as independents on a bipartisan Oxford Community slate with Democrat Fred Lanfear, a retired Oxford Academy teacher. They are commited advocates of putting protective zoning laws in place, seeing to well-maintained, safe roads, attracting new business development and residents, having a transparent, responsive Board, and keeping Oxford a safe, secure place to live.
On September 12th at the Democratic Caucus I will enthusiastically vote for Fred Lanfear as our nominee to replace Supervisor Lawrence Wilcox. We need a new majority on the board. If even one incumbent is reelected, Oxford faces years of gridlock. Several Democrats are willing to nominate Ron Charles and Paul Brennan for Democratic cross endorsement and I will support this effort.
As I learned many years ago when my father was elected mayor, a responsible American voter’s decisions should be based on the candidate’s qualifications.
I believe the three candidates, Fred Lanfear, Ron Charles and Paul Brennan are the people to elect to the Town Board – the ones who will work in the best interest of us all.
People often think their vote doesn’t count, but in two recent Village elections the results were determined by only one or two votes.
Your vote counts.
Letterfrom Ellen Anderson and Irving Wesley Hall:
Vote Your Family’s Health and Property Values Next Week in Oxford
–Ellen Anderson and Irving Wesley Hall
To the voters in the Village and Town of Oxford:
Everything you hold dear is at stake in our Town Board Republican Primary Tuesday September 10 and Democratic Caucus Thursday September 12. You and your family’s health. The value of your home and property. The prosperity and well-being of our entire community.
This year’s election is the most important in our town’s history. Your vote could make the difference. We know. Two votes determined the outcome of a recent Village Board election.
Three board members are up for reelection to the Oxford Town Board—Supervisor Lawrence Wilcox and board members John Hofmann and Larry Beckwith. We urge you to vote to replace them with candidate for Supervisor Fred Lanfear and board members Paul Brennan and Ron Charles.
The five members of the present Town Board support the heavy industrialization of Oxford by allowing the gas industry to frack our town. They passed zoning laws illegally in 2007 to allow high intensity hydraulic fracturing without restriction, even in densely populated residential areas.
Then, reportedly, they allowed Norse Energy to drill a vertical well later the same year completely bypassing their own laws. They avoided the Zoning Board of Appeals oversight and the state environmental impact statement. They never informed the neighbors. According to the official minutes, the well was never even discussed at a board meeting!
What are the potential catastrophic effects from the way the Town Board “permitted” this well? What will happen to the neighboring families and our entire community if, as reported, Norse left thousands of gallons of carcinogenic frack fluid in that well? Norse is bankrupt. Shareholders are suing the officers. The well is now abandoned.
Will board members Wilcox, Hofmann and Beckwith take responsibility when the frack fluid begins to leak next month, next year, decades in the future? We’ve spoken to a neighbor who lives down hill on the same road. She said families there have already experienced high cancer rates.
No wonder fracking devastates property values!
Insurance companies are becoming reluctant to renew policies on or near leased properties. In the Town of Lebanon, Supervisor Jim Goldstein recently reported one resident’s homeowners insurance was canceled because of an existing vertical well. The owner can’t find another insurance company. Supervisor Goldstein says Norse Energy violated the leases they signed. Norse left many Lebanon properties with uncapped and unsafe wells.
We attended the Oxford Town Board meeting when my neighbors presented Wilcox, Hofmann, Beckwith and the other members of the board with an earlier report from Supervisor Goldstein on Norse’s destructive behavior in Lebanon. Because Norse has so much land leased in Oxford (Wilcox holds a Norse lease!) they urged our board to consult their counterparts less than a hour’s drive away.
Believe it or not, Wilcox and his board completely ignored our warning. It’s in the board minutes. You’ll find it on line along with 100 unanswered questions citizens submitted to the board concerning our property values, our water supply, air pollution and the compulsory integration, or forcing, of unwilling neighbors into spacing units under total control of companies like Norse and its successors.
Banks are becoming reluctant to grant mortgages on gas leased or compulsorily integrated properties. No homeowners insurance; no mortgage. The Federal Housing Administration’s lending guidelines prohibit the financing of homes within 300 feet of a property with an active or planned drilling site. Mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also prohibit property owners from signing a gas lease or keeping hazardous materials on their property. In short, when gas drilling comes to Oxford, thanks to Wilcox, Hofmann and Beckwith, kiss the value of your property goodbye. Even if it is not completely destroyed, who would buy it?
This does not have to happen. We can elect a new board majority that will respect and not violate the law, research the gas drilling experiences of other communities, encourage public participation in a new joint Town and Village Comprehensive Plan and enact proper zoning laws that will protect lease holders and other property owners alike. That is exactly what Fred Lanfear, Paul Brennan and Ron Charles promise to do.
If you are a registered Republican vote for Paul Brennan and Ron Charles in the Republican Primary noon to 9:00pm Tuesday September 10 at the Fire House.
If you are a registered Democrat vote to nominate Fred Lanfear, Paul Brennan and Ron Charles to run on the Democratic Party line too. The caucus will take place at the Fire House 7:30 Thursday 12.
Oxford Democrats and Republicans need a bipartisan ticket November 5 to protect our families’ health and property values and restore the good government we need and deserve.
Irving Wesley Hall