Elise Stefanik, the Republican candidate for Congress in New York’s 21st district, attended the monthly meeting of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board on Wednesday to discuss regional issues.
The 12 members of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board are appointed by the governing bodies of the 12 counties located within or partly in the Adirondack Park. It was created in 1973 to assure that community interests within the park are assured as the Adirondack Park Agency conducts its work.
The Review Board invited the winner of the Republican primary in the Congressional district race to discuss issues with them as they met in Keene Valley. “We’re going to call the meeting to order.”
Stefanik, who is hoping to succeed retiring Representative Bill Owens in a three-way race, outlined her background and proposals for the region. “The interesting think about Adirondack related issues is that they are not partisan issues. We have an opportunity to work across party lines on these issues with some of the leadership of other members of the delegation. But also to work across multiple levels of government. So there is an important federal piece to work with state, county, and local officials on these issues.”
Stefanik highlighted the importance of the biomass industry, the economic impact of invasive species, the potential for Lyme disease research, and infrastructure policy planning that includes broadband investment.
Following her presentation, the floor was opened for discussion and questions. Board co-chair and Town of Saranac councilman Gerry Delaney began with an extended discussion on biomass. “I’d like a real good, hard, solid look at biomass. Because I think the real winner here is pellets, even over generating electricity.”
Brian Towers from Hamilton County: “Infrastructure is more than streets and bridges and roads for us. It’s also water, sewer projects. And a number of us, particularly here in the Adirondacks, have community-owned dams. The federal government in many cases is wonderful at creating regulations. They’re terrible at coming up with any kind of money for repairs to these facilities and it’s too daunting for many of our communities to even begin to address some of these issues.”
A Herkimer County representative noted: “The Clean Water Act is an extremely contentious piece of legislation. I’m a farmer but also it impacts the tourist industry to a tremendous extent.”
Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe notes the group will not endorse a candidate. He explained that some issues within the park, like invasives and biomass, will need federal regulations and legislation. “We have important issues that are related to the federal and I think it’s important to discuss them with the candidates.”
Stefanik found that each issue was based on the region’s economy. “When we had a long discussion about biomass potential, that’s a common sense way to create jobs in the district. When you’re discussing invasive species, our greatest resource is our environment and our natural resources in this district. Insuring that we have clean water and the federal funding to protect against those invasive species - that’s an economic issue. It’s not only a tax issue but it’s a job creator in that you will draw more tourism to the district. So every piece that we talked about is deeply tied to our economy and our job situation. This will be a long-term conversation. Many of these leaders have worked on Adirondack issues for decades, and I hope to be a long-term partner with them.”
The Stefanik campaign is forming an Adirondack Economic Advisory team to include local, county and state elected officials.
The Review Board is inviting Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf and Green candidate Matt Funicello to its September and October meetings. It does not meet in August.