A group gathered at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library in Buchanan on February 5 to hear NYS Senate District 40 Candidate Robert Kesten discuss ways of addressing the complex issues surrounding the closing of Indian Point.
Kesten spoke of the need to expand the participants on the two Indian Point task forces to include community colleges, so preparation for increasing skill sets can begin now, while people are still working at the plant. They also need to seek greater union input into the education process, so that skill development programs will reflect those needed in today’s and tomorrow’s job market.
As others have called for, Kesten said there is a great need to keep the current workforce in place for the decommissioning, and to offer them the services they will need to make the transition to new careers and or to start their own businesses.
He addressed the need for including local officials from Putnam and Dutchess counties in the planning, as a large number of workers reside in those counties. Having representatives from three counties on the task force increases the task force’s impact when it lobbies for state/federal funds, as it isn’t just one town in Westchester concerned about their citizens.
Kesten mentioned the need for infrastructure improvements in the region as a whole, with affordable mass transit, more affordable housing, and creative transportation to improve east/west travel in the tri-county region.
“It is hard to recruit the kind of businesses and light industry we need if we don’t have what they need to attract and hold onto the workforce to grow their businesses,” said Kesten. “We also must be clear, that if we are going to have a service charge of $2 a month for twelve years on our energy bills to support three nuclear plants in upstate New York, (expected revenue of $7.6 billion), then we should insist that one quarter of that, approximately $1.9 billion, is used in our communities to help them adjust to the changes from the plant closure. Those funds would help with infrastructure, economic development and learning opportunities. We have to take care of our friends, neighbors and families at home.”
Kesten closed with a call for greater involvement in the political process, stating that the more we know as citizens, the more active we are, and the more we hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire, the better our democracy works. He called for the end of “4 men in a room” determining the future of the whole state of New York.
“It is time for a truly proactive and representative government and not governing through photo ops and ribbon-cutting events,” said Kesten in closing.