The incumbent faces a challenge in Ward 6 | News, Sports, Jobs
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a six-part series featuring the candidates for Jamestown City Council.
Thomas Nelson faces a challenger for the first time since being appointed to Jamestown City Council Ward 6 in February 2015.
The contested race is between incumbent Nelson, a teacher from the Frewsburg Central School District, and Andrew Faulkner, a journeyman electrician employed by IBEW Local 106. Nelson was endorsed by Democratic parties and working families and Faulkner was endorsed by evenings Republicans and conservatives. Each candidate was asked the same four questions. Below are their answers.
Question 1: Do you think the city’s proposed American Rescue Plan Act recovery fund master plan is the best way to spend the $ 28 million Jamestown will receive in federal stimulus funding? If you do, why is this the best way to spend the funding? If you don’t, what would you change or add to the plan?
Nelson: I think the plan does a good job of proportionately balancing the funds allocated to economic development; Loss of income; housing and mental health; and water, sewer and broadband projects. Investments in our parks increase the quality of life for our residents and encourage the community to become more active. Renovations and upgrades to our fire stations are long overdue. Continuing to upgrade our urban fleet will result in better essential services, such as street snow removal and park maintenance with less downtime due to older vehicles needing repairs. Investing in the Chadakoin River Basin will benefit our residents and attract tourists to the city. Investing in our physical and digital infrastructure will be hugely beneficial as we navigate this pandemic. Improving our water, sewer and broadband infrastructure is critical at this time. Most importantly, making direct investments in housing rehabilitation programs will bring much needed improvements to our neighborhoods.
Faulkner: I think the city’s plan for US bailout funds is a good place to start. It covers many areas that will benefit the city, but it is also missing several very important areas. One of the most important areas where some of the money could be allocated is public safety, which will have an effect on every person in Jamestown. A general overview of public safety is anything that protects the public from crime, disasters, and other potential threats or dangers. The bailout money is not doing enough for public safety.
Question 2: Should the City of Jamestown allow or not allow dispensaries and cannabis consumption sites?
Nelson: There are valid arguments for and against dispensaries and cannabis consumption sites. I think Jamestown should allow dispensaries and cannabis consumption sites. I believe this will generate economic activity and give a new purpose to our aging and empty factory buildings. Research shows that for every dollar spent in the marijuana industry, between $ 2.13 and $ 2.40 in economic activity is generated. It is estimated that Jamestown could earn $ 700,000 per year in sales tax revenue from cannabis sales. Tourism, banking, food, real estate, construction, and transportation are some of the industries that benefit from legal marijuana.
Faulkner: New York State has set a tight deadline to opt out of cannabis sales and consumption sites in the state. Unfortunately, they provided little or no information about the plan / laws surrounding these businesses. Under the current opt-out rules, you can sign up at a later date, but if you signed up from the start, there is no way to opt out later. The state is asking cities to make a tough decision without any of the necessary information, which leads me to believe that Jamestown should step down first. If I am elected as a representative of the city council, I will personally ensure that the subject of membership is brought back once we know all the necessary information from the state and we can make a final decision that suits the better to our region.
Question 3: With Jamestown City Council rejecting a proposal to hold a controlled deer hunt to reduce the deer population in the town, what should council’s next step be in trying to control the deer population in the town?
Nelson: As chair of the ad hoc committee on deer management, I would recommend that city council reconsider this matter next year. Following the 7-2 vote against the committee’s proposal, many board members agreed that deer are a problem and must be addressed. Deer have a high reproduction rate; females can produce young at one year old and an average of two young per year. If food is abundant and mortality is low, deer populations can double in size every two years. A deer will eat six pounds of food each day. We must continue to educate the public that feeding deer is not only harmful to deer, but also illegal. We will always need to plant deer resistant plants and flowers. Fences and repellents will continue to be needed. As a non-hunting person, I have looked at several options, including surgical sterilization and immunocontraception. These were very expensive and labor intensive. We researched and spoke to leaders from other communities who had similar issues. Every municipality is different and none of these programs would serve as a perfect model for Jamestown, but I felt we could learn something from each of them. The program proposed by the committee would reduce the deer population through controlled bow hunting. It would solve a problem in the city and help feed people. I thought we had taken every precaution to make it safe, and it wouldn’t have cost the city anything. Can we improve the program? Absoutely. I am ready to work with any board member on this issue and open to any recommendations and suggestions.
Faulkner: After talking to hundreds of residents in Ward 6 and seeing firsthand how many “City deer” we have, this is a very important subject that needs to be addressed. The proposal that was rejected was not the answer to the question as it lacked several key elements. We need to research what other small towns have done and also look for other options to get a general idea of what is available. There are options for relocation, immunocontraception, methods of deterrence and also the idea of controlled hunting. The Ward 6 residence made it clear that they did not want this problem to be taken any further and that something had to be done quickly.
Question 4: Should the Town of Jamestown have a Local Preservation Order? If you think Jamestown should have one, why? If you don’t think Jamestown should have one, why not?
Nelson: The main challenge for cities and towns trying to create a local historic preservation ordinance is to find a balance between the preservation of historic homes and the individual rights of landowners. As a liaison with the Planning Commission, I took part in some of the discussions around this issue. I like the idea of a historic preservation board or commission to promote the identification and preservation of historic properties. It is important to make an effort to protect places, sites and structures of historical significance or of unique design or construction. A board of directors could promote public awareness and appreciation of the historic beauty and character of some of our homes and buildings. This advice could provide a framework for reinvesting in our historic buildings. However, I hesitate to support an ordinance that might be inflexible, or too detailed and / or too rigid.
Faulkner: A local preservation ordinance might be great in some historic areas of Jamestown, but a general citywide ordinance would likely be a financial burden on homeowners. It’s hard to agree or disagree with such a broad ordinance because it would have to cover so many different details to work as intended.