By Jan Worth-Nelson
By 11:30 a.m., just a half hour into voting for three open seats on the board of the Genesee Conservation District, more than 400 ballots had been cast at the polling place, Asbury United Methodist Church, according to GCD election workers.
The turnout amazed Andy Everman, an incumbent board member running for a new four-year term. He stood in the church parking lot passing out small slips recommending a slate of three: himself plus Caroline Kellogg and Kristen Miner–both residents of the College Cultural Neighborhood Association (CCNA) and both with background and experience in wildlife biology. The other candidates were Erin Caudell, Lauri Elbing, David Lossing, and Candice Mushatt.
The CCNA campaigned vigorously for its Seventh Ward residents to turn out, after several years of contentious byplay between Conservation District administrator Angela Warren, herself a CCN resident, and residents unhappy with decisions about the neighborhood’s much beloved canopies of trees. Their disagreements expanded over time into other issues, too, including the use of no-bid contracts, alleged conflicts of interests, and what the CCNA representatives said was a lack of transparency by the GCD leadership.
Warren has contended all along that the GCD, with a mission encompassing the whole county, has been hampered by inadequate resources to carry out its goals and has argued the GCD is indeed trying to do what is best for the city’s “urban forest.” While EVM staff have found Warren sometimes difficult to reach for comments, today she was working in the check-in line for voters and said she would have “a lot to say” eventually.
Watching voters move through the line, CCNA president Mike Keeler, a former UAW activist and trained wildlife biologist, smiled and speculated his experience in promoting UAW elections might have helped the CCNA affect the day’s large turnout.
EVM editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.