‘It’s up to each of us’

Florence Kingsbury voted today, as she has done in each election for more than 70 years


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Florence Kingsbury, 92, of Cortland votes today at the the Parker School polling location.    

Staff Reporter

Florence Kingsbury cast her first vote in 1935 at the Grange Hall in Tully, when she was 21 years old.
The voting age, which was lowered to 18 in 1971, should be pushed back up to 21, Kingsbury said Monday, because 18-year-old voters “don’t have the education history to know enough about the country and the people who live in it.”
Politics and voting weren’t discussed in her home very much when she was growing up in Gettysburg, Pa., and later Tully, Kingsbury said Monday afternoon from her home on Lincoln Avenue. The only ones in the family who voted were she and her father, while her mother and older sister chose to abstain.
Her mother had voted in the first elections following the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment — which gave women the right to vote — Kingsbury said, and had left the polling place only to encounter the mocking derision of a crowd outside.
“She got mad when she came out,” Kingsbury said. “She didn’t like the attitude of the people who laughed at women for voting.”
Kingsbury is now 92 years old, and has voted in every single election — almost always Republican.
“I was a citizen, and I thought it was my duty,” Kingsbury said. “If you complain, don’t blame anyone but yourself, if you didn’t vote.”
Breaking with her usual party affiliation, Kingsbury said she was proud to have voted for Democratic Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
“They were ordinary people — down to earth, like the people were back in those days,” Kingsbury said.
She said no local politicians stood out particularly strongly in her mind.
Kingsbury said the candidates themselves have changed since those great men held power in Washington, D.C.
Today, the candidates “throw mud at each other,” a practice that Kingsbury doesn’t remember being prominent in times past.
“The candidates are different. They say what they’re going to do, but they can’t always do it because someone higher up doesn’t let them,” Kingsbury said. “They say what they want, and then somebody else, like the news reporters, say something else and you don’t know what anyone is saying.”
Kingsbury’s granddaughter, Yolanda Bishop of Homer, has been taking her grandmother to vote since she received her driver’s license, and has a pretty good idea of where Kingsbury’s political views lie. Besides being a “staunch Republican,” Bishop said her grandmother didn’t approve of too many rules and regulations, to which Kingsbury enthusiastically agreed.
“We don’t have our freedom. We should stand up for some of our freedoms,” including freedom of religion and speech, Kingsbury said.
Part of the problem is that “we have a mind, but we don’t use it,” Kingsbury said, adding that she feels education needs to revert back to the basics.
“We use push-button machines to make our lives easier,” she said. “No one wants to read anymore, they just sit in front of the tube. It’s up to each of us to have an education, but we don’t want to take it. We don’t want to work for it.”
At 8:30 a.m. today, Kingsbury was proud to have cast her vote once again, this time at Parker Elementary School in the 2nd Ward. The schoolchildren swarmed around her through the hallway as she performed her duty.
“I never thought I’d live this long, and I’m proud to be have lived this long as a citizen of the United States.”


Calls to voters said to be mistakes

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — Automated phone calls giving local voters incorrect information about polling places appear to have stopped, although the origin and nature of the calls are still in question.
“All I know is that the calls have stopped,” said Democratic Election Commissioner Bill Wood. “At this point we don’t suspect it’s any kind of conspiracy or anything like that.”
Wood said Monday that the calls appear to have originated outside the county, possibly from a Democratic group, and apparently were meant to encourage Democratic voters to vote, but exactly where the calls were coming from is still unclear.
Some people reported that the messages mentioned existing polling places in Cortland County, such as the senior apartment tower on Church Street and a nursing home on Kellogg Road, said Republican Elections Commissioner Bob Howe.
Wood said he’d informed both the state and national Democratic Committees of the problem.
Jennifer Psaki, a spokesperson for the National Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said all calls made by the DCCC had targeted Democratic voters, and any misinformation was an unfortunate mistake.
“In some cases voters may have moved, some may have simply received the wrong information, and that’s too bad because we’re only calling Democratic voters, trying to get them out to vote,” Psaki said.
Wood and Republican Election Commissioner Bob Howe said they received calls from constituents saying their polling places had changed.
“People were getting calls telling them to go someplace other than the place they’re used to,” Howe said. “I’ve been told that a machine went haywire somewhere and I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but whatever was happening has been stopped.”



C’ville moving forward on proposed Wal-Mart zoning revisions

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — The Final Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter on Route 13 has been accepted as complete by the Town Board.
The town is also still mulling over the content of revisions to the town’s stormwater management, erosion, and sediment control ordinances, as well as the revised Planned Unit Development ordinance.
The board accepted Wal-Mart’s FEIS as complete last week, which means the company has answered the questions and concerns of town officials and the public that were collected in March, regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
“We still have negotiations to do with them (Wal-Mart) before we can get to the final process,” Tupper said. “We did ask them to not apply for the 485-b tax abatement program.”
The state program excuses the owners of large buildings from 50 percent of the building’s assessed valuation.
In the FEIS, which was prepared by APD Engineering of Rochester, Wal-Mart said that “the applicant for this project has not specifically indicated its desire or intent to utilize any tax abatement programs, but desires to maintain all rights to any abatement programs and such decision will be considered against the total cost of the project.”
The town is already receiving the short end of the property tax benefits, Tupper said, with an expected benefit of $61,000 total over 10 years. Meanwhile, the county would receive a projected $248,000 as a result of the project over 10 years, and the Cortland City School District would receive a projected $330,000.
“Everyone benefits from Wal-Mart except the entity that’s doing the work,” Tupper said.
However, later development might help out the town’s coffers, such as the Lowe’s Home Improvement store that will move onto the property vacated by Wal-Mart.
The Town Board returned the project’s proposed site plan to the Cortland County Planning Board for review because of the extent of the revisions since the DEIS. The plan will then be forwarded to the town Planning Board for its review and recommendation to the Town Board.
Public hearings on the revisions were held together in early October, but the public hearing for the revisions to the zoning ordinance proper has yet to be scheduled.
Concerned residents and the community action group Citizens for Aquifer Protection and Employment had submitted oral and written comments to the board, mostly requesting that some of the language be made more restrictive in order to allow for less wriggle room for potential developers.
Town Attorney John Folmer said Monday that the stormwater management plan will remain essentially as is, keeping the discretionary language in order to keep the regulations open for interpretation by town officials.
There are a wide variety of areas in the town, Folmer said, and in the past, the planning boards and town board have “used their discretion appropriately.”
Tupper said that Folmer and the town are still considering changes to the PUD ordinances, but that the Town Board had wanted to avoid making any language changes too restrictive.
Tupper hopes to have the changes approved by the end of the year.



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