Attempt to keep casino opponents from voting

Statement by Jim Dawley

My wife Desi and I met when we were 16 years old and still at Waterloo High School. We’ve been married for 30 years and have 6 wonderful children. It was also 30 years ago that we began working toward our dream of building a home for our family at 1918 Chase Road in Tyre.  As a boy growing up in Tyre, I passed this beautiful parcel of land almost everyday and knew that it was where I wanted to spend my life with my family. So, as soon as Desi and I were married, we bought the land and set to saving and planning.

For the past 10 years, we have designed and painstakingly built our home on Chase Road, while running our small business in a shop in front. My sons and I did most of the work ourselves – from hauling 52 loads of gravel for the driveway, to laying the foundation to installing the sinks. It took a long time, but the time together and the learning process was an invaluable one for our family.  I can’t express in words how proud we were when the house we built with our own hands became our home – it is truly the fulfilment of many hopes and dreams for our family.

Sadly, much of our sense of achievement in finishing our home was undermined when we received notice of an action to revoke our right to vote in Tyre, and an accompanying “investigation” to follow. We have since prevailed of course – since we properly registered and reside in Tyre. (We’d like to thank the Sheriff’s office for conducting a thorough, fair investigation in the face of political pressure.) Who are the people challenging our right to vote?  All of them are vocal supporters of the proposed Lago casino. Having grown up here, knowing how well we were raised by our parents and grandparents, I am surprised to find this type of recrimination coming from members of our community – this behavior is beneath the people we call neighbors.

Even more troubling, we found out that we were “investigated” from a newspaper reporter who had spoken to an official at the Seneca County Board of Elections.  For Tyre, or for any community in our great country, which so cherishes the right to vote – these actions by public officials are wrong. It is unethical for our local officials to use their positions and government resources to advocate for a casino and undermine our rights simply because we oppose it. In the interest of fairness and of the public good, we believe these County officials have demonstrated clear bias and should recuse themselves from working on or commenting on any and all issues relating to Tyre, the proposed casino, and the determination of our right to vote.

It is widely known that we are not in favor of the Lago casino project. In fact, we are vocally opposed.  However, we have kept the debate focused on the major issues at hand – like community impact and environmental impact and have not waged smear campaigns against any of our community members who believe in the casino’s promises.  Yes, this issue means a great deal to us – if Lago is built it will stand just a few yards from the home my wife and I have worked 30 years to complete – but never did we expect such callous, personal attacks against us on behalf of an out-of-town developer who has no history here, who is not our neighbor, and who has done nothing but sow division in our community where there has been none for over two hundred years – until now.  I look forward to the return of civility and kinship in this great community we all proudly call home.

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