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Incumbent Faces Challenge In Ward 6

Editor’s note: This is the second in a six-part series featuring the candidates running for Jamestown City Council.

Thomas Nelson is facing a challenger for the first time since being appointed to the Jamestown City Council Ward 6 seat in February 2015.

The contested race is between the incumbent Nelson, a Frewsburg Central School District teacher, and Andrew Faulkner, a journeyman electrician employed by IBEW Local 106. Nelson has been endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties and Faulkner has been endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties. Each candidate was asked the same four questions. Below are their responses.

Question 1: Do you think the city’s proposed American Rescue Plan Act Recovery Funds 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 feel the plan does a good job of proportionally balancing the funds allocated to economic development; lost revenue; housing and mental health; and water, sewer and broadband projects. Investments in our parks increases the quality of life for our residents as well as encouraging the community to become more active. Renovations and improvements to our fire stations are long overdue. Continuing to upgrade our city fleet will mean better essential services, such as plowing streets and park maintenance with less downtime due to old vehicles that are in need of repair. Investing in the Chadakoin River Basin will benefit our residents and bring tourists to the city. Investing in our physical and digital infrastructure will be extremely beneficial as we navigate through this pandemic. Improvements to our water, sewer and broadband infrastructure are critical at this time. Most importantly, making direct investments in housing rehabilitation programs will bring much-needed improvements to our neighborhoods

Faulkner: I believe the city plan for the American rescue plan funds is a good starting point. It covers many of the areas that will benefit the city, but it also misses several very important areas. One of the most important areas some of the money could be allocated to is public safety, which will have an effect on every person in Jamestown. A broad overview of public safety is anything that protects the public from crime, disaster and other potential threats or danger. The rescue plan money does not do nearly enough for public safety.

Question 2: Should the city of Jamestown opt in or out of allowing cannabis dispensaries and consumption sites?

Nelson: There are valid arguments for and against cannabis dispensaries and consumption sites. I believe Jamestown should allow cannabis dispensaries and consumption sites. I believe it will generate economic activity and provide a new purpose for our aging and empty factory buildings. Research shows that for every $1 spent in the marijuana industry, between $2.13 and $2.40 in economic activity is generated. It’s estimated that Jamestown could gain $700,000 a year in sales tax revenue from cannabis sales. Tourism, banking, food, real estate, construction and transportation are a few of the industries that benefit from legal marijuana.

Faulkner: The state of New York has set an aggressive deadline for opting out of cannabis sales and consumption sites in the state. Unfortunately, they have provided little to no insight as to the plan/laws around these businesses. Under the current opt out rules you are able to opt in at a later date, but if you are in from the start there is no way to opt out down the road. The state is asking cities to make a tough decision with none of the necessary information, which leads me to believe Jamestown should opt out initially. If I’m elected as a City Council representative I will personally make sure the topic of opting in is brought back up once we know all of the necessary information from the state and can make a final decision that works best for our area.

Question 3: With the Jamestown City Council voting down a proposal to operate a controlled deer hunt to curtail the population of deer in the city, what should be the next step taken by the council to try to control the deer population in the city?

Nelson: As the chairman of the ad hoc committee on deer management, I would recommend that the city council revisit this issue next year. Following the 7-2 vote against the committee’s proposal, many of the council agreed that the deer are a problem and that it needs to be addressed. Deer have a high reproductive rate; females can produce young at one year of age, and average two offspring 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 every day. We need to continue to educate the public that feeding the deer is not only harmful to the deer but also illegal. We will always need to plant deer-resistant plants and flowers. Fences and repellents will continue to be necessary. As someone who does not hunt, I looked at multiple solutions, including surgical sterilization and immunocontraception. These were very expensive and labor-intensive. We researched and spoke to leaders in other communities who had similar problems. 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 the committee proposed would reduce the deer population through the use of a controlled bow hunt. It would address a city problem and would help feed people. I believed we took every precaution to make it safe, and it would have cost the city nothing. Can we improve the program? Absolutely. I am willing to work with any council member on this issue and open to all recommendations and suggestions.

Faulkner: After speaking to hundreds of Ward 6 residence and also seeing first-hand how many “city deer” we have, this is a very important topic that needs addressed. The proposal that was voted down was not the answer to the issue as it lacked several key components. We need to research what other small cities have done and also research other options to get a broad idea of what is available. There are options for relocation, immunocontraception, deterrence methods and also the idea of a controlled hunt. The residence of Ward 6 have made it abundantly clear that they do not want this issue pushed further down the road and that something must be done soon.

Question 4: Should the city of Jamestown have a Local Preservation Ordinance? If you believe Jamestown should have one, why? If you don’t think Jamestown should have one, why not?

Nelson: The main challenge for cities and towns attempting to create a historic Local Preservation Ordinance is to strike a balance between the preservation of historical homes and the individual rights of property owners. Serving as the liaison to the Planning Commission I have taken 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’s important to make an effort to protect places, sites and structures of historic significance or unique design or construction. A board could foster public awareness and appreciation of the historic beauty and character of some of our homes and buildings. This board could provide a framework for reinvesting in our historic buildings. However, I am hesitant to support an ordinance that may be inflexible, or too detailed and/or too rigid.

Faulkner: A Local Preservation Ordinance could be great in certain historic areas of Jamestown, but a blanket ordinance for the entire city would likely be a financial burden to homeowners. It is tough to agree or disagree with such a broad ordinance as it would need to cover so many different details in order to work as intended.

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