All fired up: Fuse lit between Cannon and Ball
By KATIE ATKINS
OBSERVER Staff Writer
ARKWRIGHT – With just days leading up to the primary vote in Arkwright on Tuesday, things are getting explosive in the primary battle between Chris Cannon and Larry Ball who are both running for town council. There are currently two open seats on the board.
Ball is an incumbent, while Cannon has never held a position on the council.
In a press release in Monday’s OBSERVER, Cannon said he was seeking the Republican endorsement and also the Independence endorsement as a write-in candidate because he would like to raise public awareness of issues facing the town.
Cannon said he wants people to know there is an Arkwright Town Hall building project taking place and most residents are unaware of the facts of the project.
“There needs to be more input from the public so sound decisions can be made,” Cannon said, adding, “They need to know what’s going on with it and have a say in it.”
Running as a Republican and Independence Party candidate, Ball said in a rebuttal this week that the building project “is not a reality,” although the board has set up a committee that has been appointed to investigate possible solutions to problems regarding the existing town hall and its “short-comings.”
He said the board has sought the services of an architectural firm to “advise the town board in determining if the town needs to build, and if they do need to build, what to build and how much it would cost and if there are any available grants to underwrite the project.”
Ball said it’s only a feasibility study and when it’s completed it will be presented to the board for discussion.
Cannon said in a phone interview on Thursday, “I go to every board meeting. They’ve authorized money to pay an architect.”
He said the board has paid the architect more than $10,000 and that there are figures near $340,000 for a new building.
“I think that’s way too high. I don’t think that amount of money should be spent on a ‘renovation,'” Cannon said.
Ball said over the phone Thursday, “There is no building project, no bids for construction and no proposals set forth yet. We do not have a building project yet.”
In regards to the amount of $340,000, he said, “It’s no hard, set-in-stone figure.”
Ball previously said in a rebuttal letter that it’s an “absolute conflict of interest” that Cannon is involved as a participant in the planned Arkwright Summit Wind Farm Project as he “will be receiving tens of thousands of dollars in lease payments from the developer.”
The proposed Arkwright Summit Wind Farm will be in the northern part of the county and has been in the works for over five years.
Cannon commented, “I have a lease with (the developer) and it will be published, what they pay me. It’s all regulated.”
In Ball’s letter, he claims Cannon “feels that by disclosing his financial involvement he would still be eligible to participate in any Arkwright Town Board discussions and votes regarding the project.”
Cannon explained, “This isn’t the first time a (potential) board member has been involved in the wind project,” and, “I would recuse myself of voting on all windmill issues. If you recuse yourself it’s not a conflict of interest.”
On the contrary, Cannon said Ball has appointed board members to be involved with the project.
Ball said, “I know all of the people who have been on the board and I know none of them have been under contract with the project.”
He added, “I won’t get a red cent whereas he will get tens of thousands of dollars.”
However, in Cannon’s phone interview he said, “New York State Code of Conduct has a procedure for dealing with these conflicts of interest, thereby allowing people to be public servants and also to participate in a wind project.”
He added, “Maybe the conflict of interest is having his daughter do the rabies vaccine and her getting paid for it. He votes on her doing it.”
Ball’s daughter, a licensed veterinarian, performs routine rabies shots in Arkwright each year for which she is paid by the town.
“She doesn’t charge anymore than any other veterinarian. We could go back and look at votes and find they were unanimous and my vote wouldn’t have made a difference anyway,” Ball said. “In fact, I remember distinctly that I did not sign the voucher that came through for payment. I didn’t think it would be in the best interest if I did.”
Minutes from an Arkwright board meeting in February show that a motion was made by Ball to set a date and time for the rabies clinic in May, but it does not show whether Ball had any say in the appointment of his daughter as the veterinarian.
Ball finished the interview with, “He’s bringing up a lot of issues. I wanted to respond to the accusations he made in the press release. I don’t appreciate him making accusations without proper backup.”
Cannon said on Friday, “He started all these accusations about me,” and “It (the building project) shouldn’t be kept a secret. I think the public should know about it and they should have a say in it.”
The primary election takes place on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Hours of voting are from noon until 9 p.m. Arkwright’s poll site is at the Arkwright Town Hall at 9543 Center Rd. in Fredonia.