Louise Barteau is not originally from Fairhaven; she chose it. When she and her late husband left Philadelphia they came here because they wanted to, because they loved it here. Since she is running for the Board of Health, that’s important. It means she doesn’t owe anyone political favors. Unlike her opponent, Jeannine Lopes, who works for Brian Bowcock; Louise Barteau doesn’t have to do what her boss—or anyone else—tells her. She is accountable to the voters alone.
Louise Barteau is retired now, too. So she can be a completely independent voice on the Board of Health. We won’t have to worry about her using her elected office as a means to promote her own business- or self-interests, as some members of the Board have apparently done for years. No wonder the political establishment in Fairhaven is afraid. They know she will put matters of public health and safety first.
This fear is what motivates the drones in the machine, a.k.a. Friends of Fairhaven Wind, to resort to scaremongering and attack ads to convince voters that she will somehow put the town at financial risk.
If you have been taken in by this nonsense, here is something you should know. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has a long and unbroken track record of upholding local Boards of Health and other boards, when they enact reasonable regulations to promote health and safety. Massachusetts law (Ch. 111, section 31) empowers them to do so. In 2001, for example, it upheld the Barnstable Board of Health for enacting second hand smoking regulations in restaurants. Just this past year, the Falmouth ZBA was upheld twice for finding the town’s turbines to be a noise nuisance. It is Fairhaven Wind that faces the real risk of reasonable regulations and that is the real concern for the drones. That’s why they call themselves Friends of Fairhaven Wind instead of just Friends of Fairhaven.
As Roosevelt put it, on the other hand, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Louise Barteau has a genuine, natural concern for people. When the turbines began to spin, she was concerned about the impacts they were having on health and property values; but she was unwilling to take anyone’s word for what was really happening. Instead, she went door-to-door throughout the affected neighborhoods to hear firsthand what people were actually experiencing. That is how so many people in Fairhaven came to know her for the honest, decent, and considerate person that she really is. For her part, she felt that using her personal time to get to know her neighbors better, was time well spent. Anyone who has gotten to know her, knows this is the type of person she truly is.
Her opponent, Jeannine Lopes, by contrast, has steadfastly and obstinately refused to even listen to anyone who is being harmed. As a sitting member of the Board, she has voted twice to deny residents the chance to even be heard in an open public forum. For more than two years now, she has chosen to ignore nearly 700 complaints made directly to her office. She has declined to even investigate these complaints because she already knows that they are perfectly legitimate. Investigating them would be highly inconvenient for her, because it would force her to do something she has never done before: take action to protect the public. That would be the last thing that those who are holding her political markers would want—and she knows it.
Voters have a clear choice.
Louise Barteau is intelligent and well-educated. She is a Harvard grad and she has spent most of her adult life studying botany and the ecology of native plants and birds. She has the demonstrated intellect to understand the complexities involved in public health policies and the natural curiosity to educate herself about issues which are unfamiliar to her. Her opponent demonstrably does not.
Democracy in America is based on a system of checks and balances, to ensure limitations on the power of any one branch. For government to work correctly, though, we have to elect strong-minded, intelligent, responsible people who have the courage to do the right thing. Louise Barteau is all those things.
On April 7th, we have a chance to make government work correctly again in Fairhaven, but voters will have to have the courage to do the right thing as well: Elect Louise Barteau.