HOPKINTON — Three newcomers, Democrat Jeffery Snell and Republicans Deborah J. Rust and Jody Wenzel, are running for two seats on the town council.
While other candidates in the town have said they believed the issue of the wind farms are dead, Mr. Snell and Mr. Wenzel said they still had concerns.
Mr. Wenzel said he became involved in town government when energy company Avangrid’s North Ridge Wind Project surfaced. He became the vice chair of an wind advisory committee that drafted a wind energies law which was passed by the Town Board April 26, 2018, which limited the wind farm that Avangrid had hoped to build, essentially leading to the energy company losing interest in the project.
After the law passed, he said he was approached by members of the community asking him to run and he agreed, running on three issues: keeping the wind law in place, bringing new ideas as an outsider, and creating economic growth.
“I don’t know if the wind project is still a serious threat, but I know that all the leases that were signed for that project are still in effect and have not been canceled and I think that gives pause for concern,” he said. “I’ve lived here for a long time but I’m not originally from around here. I like to think that I bring some new perspective to the equation.”
Mr. Snell, who said he will be changing party affiliation in the future, becoming a Republican, adding he believes in voting on the merits of a specific issue regardless of party affiliation, said his campaign was rooted in his fearlessness to speak out.
“I feel the residents of Hopkinton need council members that are transparent, ethical and, above all, committed to abiding by the will of the majority when it comes to significant issues that affect the quality of life and the future direction of our town,” Mr. Snell said.
He too was a vocal opponent to the wind project and said as long as the leases are in place he didn’t believe the worry was over.
“While industrial wind and industrial solar are the current hot topics, I do recognize that our town has other issues and topics to address,” he said. “I would keep spending down, increase revenue, I would like to see our town promote the tourist industry more, perhaps partnering with the DEC to make more and improved handicap/senior accessible state forest sites, and ensure/encourage the St. Lawrence County legislators to not take away one percent of the sales tax currently earmarked for municipalities.”
He also said he wanted to see more work done on the current solar law in development, saying it would be appropriate to extend the moratorium to allow the newly elected board members to finalize the new law.
Ms. Rust said while she was new to the political arena, saying it would be like a new job to her, learning as she goes, two focal points for her would be making improvements to Fort Jackson Park, including adding nature trails.
“It would a nice nature trail for the schools. You got the wildlife, you got the foliage, all kinds of things that they could learn about in the area. So I would like to see that develop,” she said. “I’d like to see a couple of pavilions put up for picnicking and it needs to get cleared out and I think if we ask some of our foresters that are in the area or even any volunteers who have anything to do with conservation, we could have palates for tenters.“
She also wanted to find ways to keep area youths from leaving, as she said she and many others have in the past.
“I think voters should know that I am concerned about the town and what’s happening to it and we need to try to find ways to keep our youth here,” she said. “I understand because I did leave here when I was young. I followed my ex-husband around because he was in the Army, but when I came back home and the idea of community is really what drew me back.”
THE WENZEL FILE
nName: Jody Wenzel
nOccupation: Chemical/Quality Engineer
nFamily: 1 son, Julian, age 13
nEducation: B.S. Chemical Engineering, Clarkson University; B.S. Engineering Management, Clarkson University; Master’s Degree, Business Administration (MBA), Clarkson University
nCivic Work: Vice-Chairman, Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board
THE RUST FILE:
nName: Deborah (Tharrett) Rust
nFamily: 2 daughters, parents still living in town, oldest of six children
nEducation: High School, some college, life skills, trade school
nCivic Work, elected offices: Army Community Service, Elks, Hopkinton Maple
Festival, Hopkinton Summer Fest Committee, area church dinner volunteer
THE SNELL FILE:
nName: Jeffrey Snell (Jeff)
nAddress: Hopkinton (Mail 2442 State Highway 72, Potsdam, N.Y. 13676)
nOccupation: Loss Prevention / Security Supervisor Tarbell Management Group (TMG) Hogansburg, N.Y.
nFamily: Christina M. Snell, wife; Anna Snell, daughter; Zachary Snell, son; Addison Snell –daughter;
nEducation: 1990 graduate of Parishville-Hopkinton Central School 1994 Graduate of S.U.N.Y. @ Plattsburgh, Bachelor of Arts Sociology Bachelor of Arts Criminal Justice
nCivic Work/Elected office: School Board Member — Parishville-Hopkinton Central School, 1999-2003; Recipient of the St. Lawrence County Satisfaction Award in recognition for outstanding job performance Certificate of recognition for Excellence and Outstanding Service — St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, 2007