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mailmanThis is an era of ever-more complex problems. Globalization, climate change, technology disruptions, and disturbing social malaise vie for our attention in a networked world passing various tipping points. It's naïve to think we can handle this complexity with simple sloganeering and silo thinking. That's why it's critical to elect people with sufficient capacity for systems thinking to explore the issues before us. A little humility in the face of complexity is also useful.

Village and Town of Lansing voters will head to the polls next month to elect our county reps and 2 town board members. I hope most of us can agree that making an informed choice is something we value. That's especially true when the public's health, safety and solvency are at risk. That's why I am concerned about the tendency of our current county rep, Mike Sigler, to present such one-sided and incomplete portrayals of local issues in his opinion pieces and campaign literature. This is not conducive to cultivating an informed citizenry – something Thomas Jefferson viewed as the essential role of journalism in a democracy. Although Mr. Sigler began his career as a reporter, presumably covering multiple viewpoints on current events, his writing as our elected representative often sounds more like that of a partisan lobbyist.

For example, he tries to frame the issue of the proposed Dryden gas pipeline as absolutely necessary to expand Lansing's tax base, and consistently avoids mentioning that our county's carbon emission reduction goals (which he voted for) and the high price of climate change are the primary drivers of the search for non pipeline alternatives such as smart design and hyper-efficient heat pumps.

Similarly, he asserts that the objective of those opposing the salt mine expansion under Cayuga Lake is to throw the miners out of work – never mentioning that the lawsuit by surrounding municipalities is based on demanding that the DEC do a proper and thorough job of assessing risk to the rest of us of Cargill's mining ever closer to the bottom of the lake instead of mining under the land and paying royalties to landowners.

I went to the forum hosted by CLEAN this summer on this topic, and it was clear to me that the public deserves a chance to fully understand how we may be impacted instead of being misled by a false frame of 'activists' wanting to close the mine. I wish that my rep would fight for my interests and push for Cargill, a huge global cartel, to stop hiding behind claims of "trade secrets" and share their data with the DEC and local governments so that the people can make an informed choice about how we want things to proceed.

That's why I hope Lansing voters will choose Mike Koplinka-Loehr to be our next county rep. He's willing to listen, learn, and evolve his thinking. At first he was okay with the mine expansion, despite its proximity to his home; but he was willing to listen to the concerns of others, get briefed by geologists and others familiar with the 1994 Retsof salt mine disaster (a mere 100 miles from here), and then acknowledge how a very similar set of geologic circumstances puts our Cayuga Lake at risk. (No wonder so many nearby towns and villages are suing the DEC over this.)

We need and deserve representation that is willing to be intellectually honest and discerning about our collective long-term safety and economic security. I hope Lansing voters will think about the need for informed choices when they vote on November 7.

Gay Nicholson
Lansing, NY
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