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SFEAC survey tackles landfill issue as primary concern in local races

The Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee recently surveyed Seneca Falls Town Board and Seneca County Board of Supervisors candidates on environmental issues. Eight candidates, all from Seneca Falls, responded to the survey and five received high environmental scores. Doug Avery, candidate for Seneca Falls Town Supervisor, Jean Lashbrook Gilroy and Steve Churchill, both running for Seneca Falls Town Board, received high scores for their strong support of Local Law #3 and landfill closure by 2025, as did Seneca County Supervisor Candidates Rachel Weil and Susan Sauvageau.

Town Supervisor candidate, Doug Avery, scored 92 percent, an A rating. When asked about Local Law #3 he responded that it “must be vigorously defended…this is a fight we must be prepared to fight until we get a satisfactory conclusion.” Avery is also opposed to negotiating a new Host Community Agreement with the landfill stating that “SMI’s only interest [in a new agreement] would be to extend the life of the landfill.” He commented further on landfill closure by saying, “We must have proof that provisions for the landfill after closure are in place, and work with the DEC, the federal government, and our state legislators to prevent the landfill from escaping through a loophole.”

Jean Lashbrook Gilroy, Town Board candidate, scored 93 percent, earning an A rating. About Local Law #3 she said, “Stop the madness—stop the dumping—stop the smells and trucks. But more importantly LL3 says stop the control of big money and big business demands in our community.” She also expressed the need for a “strong solid waste management plan,” indicating that it is “important as a clear path forward in the closing of SMI landfill which poses a continuous threat to the health and safety of two towns…and our waterways.”

Town Board candidate and longtime environmental advocate, Steve Churchill, scored 94 percent, an A rating on the survey. “Local Law #3, as all of us in Seneca Falls and many in the Finger Lakes Region know, is the one great hope we have in what has been long, long overdue, that is the closing of Seneca Meadows.” Churchill also pointed out that Seneca Meadows is a county issue and “Protecting Public Health is one of the primary functions of the county.” He feels that “better and continuous monitoring of both air and water” should be implemented because “we cannot forget that two elementary schools, teeming with our children and their very young lungs, are within a stone’s throw of the dump, breathing the stench every day.”

Rachel Weil, County Supervisor candidate, scored a 93 percent, an A rating. She strongly supports Local Law #3 and went on to say that she does “foresee (unfortunately) circumstances in which we might need a county equivalent…I would support that county-wide law.” Weil also feels that “the county should take responsibility for receiving and tracking odor complaints, and should take legal action when SMI is found to be in violation.”

County Supervisor candidate Susan Sauvageau scored 92 percent, an A rating, stating that “Local Law #3 is a valuable timestamp to clearly mandate the closure of Seneca Meadows Landfill in 2025, and to insure that any new solid waste management operations are banned.” Sauvageau, who works in the County Office Building, also supports a county-wide odor law, stating “landfill odor is a regular presence in the vicinity” and suggested that the county “could pass a county level odor ordinance.”

Three other candidates, Mike Ferrara, Josh Larsen, and Paul Kronenwetter also responded to the survey, but received low scores.

Town Supervisor candidate Mike Ferrara, who scored 61 percent, a D rating, was vague on his view of Local Law #3. He stated, “Local Law #3 is the current law…I respect the law as of now.” Ferrara went on to say, “…I am not convinced that Seneca Meadows is closing in 2025…[but] whenever the landfill closes, the ownership should be held accountable…”

He is also in favor of a Solid Waste Management Plan.

Paul Kronenwetter, incumbent Seneca Falls County Supervisor, scored 42 percent, an F rating. He was noncommittal on Local Law #3 stating, “As a county supervisor, I have no vote on Local Law 3…It is a Town law.” He also said, “I initiated the Solid Waste Management plan to prepare in the event Local Law 3 holds up in court and is enforced in 2025. Closing down any law abiding business with a local law is troubling, but whenever they do close, SMI has a closure and post closure fund as a condition of their DEC permit.”

Josh Larsen, Town Board candidate, scored 29 percent, an F rating, primarily due to his stance on Local Law #3 and noncommittal responses about landfill odor and leachate. He stated, “Any local law that seeks to raise taxes and eliminate jobs should be abolished.”

Two Seneca Falls candidates, Dawn Dyson and Ralph Lott, failed to respond and received zeros.

No candidates were involved in the survey creation, or grading process.

The above is a republished press release from the Seneca Falls Environmental Action Committee and was not written by Click here to submit press releases, community announcements, or news tips to the team. Newsroom inquiries can be sent by clicking here.

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