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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 6, 2011
By Zach Simeone
BERNE Dawn Jordan, 50, became more involved with the political landscape in the Hilltowns about three years ago, when Shell WindEnergy came to the area and secretly offered to purchase private property from landowners for the purpose of building a massive, industrial wind farm.
She and her husband subsequently formed Helderberg Community Watch, a group that looks to keep Hilltowners informed on the potential threats posed by large-scale wind development.
Now, Jordan, a Democrat, is running for town board.
“I’ve gained a lot of respect for the process of local government and the people who obviously spend a lot of time doing what they do, serving the town, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Jordan said this week. “I think I have something to add to that, and I enjoy the process.”
Jordan spends much of her time caring for her mother, she said, “so I am not gainfully employed.”
But, for the past seven years, Jordan had worked as a music teacher at Helderberg Christian School, and had worked for years as a pharmacist at the old Jefferson Heights Memorial Hospital in Catskill, until her children were born.
“I have been going to town meetings, so I’m about as aware as any regular citizen could be as to what the issues are, the problems, and what’s going on in town,” Jordan said. “I’ve always had a volunteer spirit. I jump in where there’s a need. I get along with people, I communicate well, and I’m a good listener.”
She thinks the town has done a good job keeping costs down in its budgeting.
“I’ve gone to almost every single meeting for almost two years, including budget meetings,” said Jordan. “Even with that information, it’s really not enough to know exactly what’s going on budgetarily. It’s really hard to get that kind of info unless you’re on the other side of the table, so to speak.”
She went on, “Tropical Storm Irene blew everything out of the water, so to speak, as far as emergency money, and equipment, and stone to repair the roads. So, I can’t really tell you what’s going to happen. The 2-percent cap is going to create some difficulties, but I kind of like the idea that the people would have a say in having it be higher than that. It gives people the feeling that they have some say in the process.”
Jordan also explicitly opposes hydrofracking.
“Every citizen who drinks water ought to research the issue,” she said. “You cannot just take what you hear on the television commercials, or on the news, or even in the newspaper; you have to do research yourself. And I think towns have the responsibility to do the research.”
Jordan attended meetings in Rensselaerville when its investigation into wind-power was discussed, and she thinks that the town had the right idea forming a team of researchers to determine the propriety of this technology in town.
“I feel their wind-study committee did a superb job with its recommendation,” she said. “It’s lengthy, it’s complete, it’s exhaustive, and they spent a great deal of time making sure they looked at all the angles, and I think it’s a wonderful resource, because Rensselaerville is very similar to Berne.”
In the town’s search for its next supervisor, she hopes that the committee chooses someone with the necessary experience.
“There’s a whole lot you need to have a good handle on: contract negotiations, budgeting; it’s not a job that everyone can do well,” she said. “It’s a huge learning curve even for someone who just comes onto the town board; the supervisor’s position has to be 10 times more than that. I like the plan to have a search committee and find people who have some of those skills and would be willing to serve, and one of those people might already be on the town board.”
Jordan went on to say that she supports the town’s sewer project.
“Some of the people have really bad water there, and you absolutely have to do something,” she said. “I was there for some of the public hearings, and I know some people are going to lose some lovely trees in front of their homes, and I feel bad about that, and I know there have to be some eminent domain proceedings, and I don’t like that either. But, from a public-health standpoint, it’s the lesser of two evils. You can’t have contaminated water.”
Jordan said that, given her interest in public health, she would consider helping with management of the sewer district.
“I don’t know if they’d want that, or to go to someone who’s been on the inside more with that issue, going into that position,” she said. “I would certainly want to sit down with Peter [Vance] and get a crash course on sewer districts. I would be willing to put in the time to learn, if the board felt I was a good choice for that position, but I’m not even sure what that would entail.”