Riverkeeper's note: The following is a column by Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper John Zaktansky concerning the May 2022 primaries. Opinions shared in this column are those of the individual author.
'Twas the night before primaries, and all through PA
Candidates scurried, pleading their case
Except for that moment that rendered them silent
Asked four simple questions about the environment …
In case you missed the televised debate, an influx of mail (both electronic and snail), and the neighborhood’s redecoration efforts via red, white and blue campaign signs – today is the May 2022 primary. It marks the next big step toward choosing our next governor along with a variety of other important offices.
In terms of the governor race, we aren’t making the final choice today. The major parties are narrowing down the field to their top choices. For the Democrats, it will be an unchallenged Josh Shapiro. For the Republicans? It remains undecided.
Lou Barletta, Doug Mastriano, Charlie Gerow, William McSwain and a few others remain in a race where platforms are all very similar. Much of it follows party lines, as if we all live in this binary world of black-and-white. On many of the most important topics, most of the people live somewhere in a spectrum of gray, and yet we are required to choose black or white.
In an effort to color between the lines, I reached out to the major candidates for governor weeks ago with four simple questions about the environment.
“Environment,” unfortunately is one of those buzz words that leads ways too many people down a rabbit hole of stereotypes and finger-pointing. You are either pro-environment or pro-big business. Again, we’re forced to believe that this is a black-and-white topic. The reality comes in numerous shades of gray. A person can acknowledge the importance of boosting the economy while appreciating our natural resources and taking realistic steps to protect those resources.
My four questions were not developed as some sort of trap – some sneaky way to blow holes in someone’s campaign, but merely to help average citizens see a different shade of gray from their otherwise black-and-white candidates as they make their final decisions before filling out the ballot.
I planned to put these responses in an easy-to-digest, side-by-side graphic. I encouraged candidates to answer all four questions, or, at the very least, provide an overall statement that covers the bases.
However, no responses were received, despite numerous attempts on my end via emails and phone calls to connect with the candidates.
Silence, sometimes, can speak louder than words. No response can really be a response of its own.
Ultimately, I encourage everyone to go out and vote today, but first do your homework. Cast your ballot for the candidate who best represents where you stand on topics you consider non-negotiables.
Once the dust settles on today’s primary results, I hope the remaining candidates reconsider a response to my four questions – that they use them as a springboard to help better connect with people across our 11,000-square-mile watershed.
Our association is committed to promote and protect the health and vibrancy of the Susquehanna River, its tributaries and the creatures that depend on our aquatic resources. The best way to do that is by all of us finding common ground and working together.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what you think of all of this. What are the most important topics to you concerning our natural resources? If you could ask the final candidates one question concerning those resources, what would it be?
John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.