Green Party congressional candidate Donald Hassig wants to remind people that the contest for New York's new 21st Congressional District is still a three-way dance.
The environmental and health activist from Colton petitioned his way on to the Green Party line earlier this year. He'll be on the ballot Nov. 6, along with incumbent Democrat Bill Owens and Republican, Conservative and Independence party candidate Matt Doheny, who bested Kellie Greene of Sackets Harbor in Tuesday's Republican primary.
"I expected Mr. Doheny to succeed in establishing himself as the Republican Party's candidate due to the fact that he was the Republican candidate in the last campaign for the seat held by Congressman Owens," Hassig told the Enterprise on Wednesday.
Hassig said his plan is to highlight some of the issues the two major parties are likely to ignore, like bringing an end to America's involvement in wars that aren't about self-defense, banning hydraulic fracturing in the U.S., establishing campaign finance reform and eliminating corporate influence in Congress.
Hassig said he also wants to talk about creating more safeguards against the erosion of civil rights, improving equal rights for women and creating legislation "to assert animal rights and protect protect animals from abuse."
Protecting the environment is the top priority for Hassig, who runs the advocacy group Cancer Action NY.
"I will be attending public gatherings including county fairs, parades and concerts to engage the public on these issues," he said.
Opposes Keystone pipeline
Hassig said he disapproves of legislation passed last week in the House, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, that aims to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil by opening up new lands for domestic drilling.
Owens voted in favor of the bill. He said in a prepared statement that domestic oil production is at an eight-year high and that the U.S. "must continue that momentum.
"This legislation will provide new opportunities for responsible domestic drilling that will help us to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil and create jobs," Owens said.
The bill would require the Interior Department to make sure 25 percent of eligible federal land is available for lease every year. During debate on the bill, lawmakers offered up an amendment to expedite approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but it was later withdrawn. That disappointed Owens, who said he's consistently supported the Keystone project.
"Drilling for oil in the Bakken oil field of Montana and North Dakota utilizes high-volume hydraulic fracturing," Hassig said. "Drilling for gas in many states, including Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, also utilizes (fracturing). There is nothing safe about this drilling practice. The residents of New York have made clear their opposition to hydraulic fracturing in New York. Federal lands need to be protected from this heavily polluting drilling activity, not further opened up to it."
Hassig said tar sands exploitation should be prohibited.
"I oppose construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline because it is part of tar sands exploitation," he said.