NY19 at a Crossroads: why I’m not voting for John Faso, and why he may lose

Faso Protest Poster, 2017 | Jess Irish

ate in former NY19 representative Chris Gibson’s career — February 19, 2016 to be exact — he authored a pointed request to The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take the warranted concerns of his constituents over Fracked Gas infrastructure seriously. Its been 990 days since that letter, 990 days in which constituents of the NY19 have had absolutely no Federal representation of their concerns in matters related to big oil and gas development within the NY19.

This disregard makes people upset, and on November 6th, 2018 it may very well come to an end. Its well known that John Faso has a ‘people problem’; but less known is his fossil fuel policy problem and now numbers problem. By themselves, all three problems might be surmountable; but together, they are daunting just two days out from the 2018 congressional elections.

John Faso’s People Problem

A congressional representative that refuses to meet with his constituents and continually avoids direct contact is a problem. It means literally that he is unable to hear, gauge, evaluate, represent or enact policy or simply vote in his constituent’s very expressed and clear interests.

Daily Freeman | Accessed 11/4/2018 via link

Two years is long enough to establish a pattern, and the Faso pattern is to duck any direct engagement with his constituents. Its become so egregious that neighboring NY18 representative Sean Maloney in 2017 started holding town halls for NY19 constituents.

John Faso’s Fossil Fuel Policy Problem

While Faso’s people problem has gained much notoriety, lesser known is his political and policy stance towards the number one environmental threat facing large swaths of his district — the rapid expansion of fracked gas infrastructure. While New York retains an ostensible fracking moratorium on the actual practice of fracked gas drilling not so for pipelines, compressor stations and baseload power plants on a rampage across the district.

2 of the 4 major fracked gas baseload plants in the immediate NY region are in NY19, while pipelines and compressors that feed the 3rd (CPV plant) are also in NY19 | plant sites mapped by author

At every turn, John Faso supports this industry and goes to great lengths to protect its interests and ability to operate unimpeded within the district and throughout the USA. There’s a simple reason for his unending boosterism: it pays well. Those familiar with Faso’s background will note his 2012–2015 tenure as a go-to lobbyist to ram in the Constitution pipeline against New York’s expressed will.

Faso with Cricket Valley Fracked Gas Turbine | accessed via facebook — link

This boosterism continues today in the form of undying support for the Cricket Valley Fracked Gas powerplant. While the global scientific community issues dire, short range predictions of climate collapse — most recently the IPCC report — Faso can’t find a powerplant he doesn’t celebrate. Faso has also parlayed his cosiness with big oil and gas interests into a critical yet rarely discussed role as Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials House subcommittee vice-chair. Even as massive explosions rock both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Faso maintains an utterly absent record on public safety surrounding these and other dangerous fracked gas overbuilds.

John Faso’s Numbers Problem

As the New York Board of Elections issued its November enrollment statistics by congressional district, it became clear that across the majority of New York State races the notion of a ‘blue wave’ is not without credence. In aggregate, NY19 is one of the standout races in large part because of the following data point: Democratic enrollment far exceeded that of Republican enrollment not only since the previous enrollment tranche (April 2018), but importantly going back to 2016 when Faso won the NY19 seat. In the following chart, the enrollment difference is stark (change denoted in 1K increments):

John Faso gained less than 300 potential Republican voters in aggregate 2016–18, whereas Antonio Degaldo gained 7.5K potential Democratic voters in the same period. | Data analysis and graph via author

A disaggregated representation of the data gives further nuance into the potential voting trends in NY19. The ‘gain’ is by no means evenly distributed; in fact there is somewhat significant loss most notably in Sullivan county. In the following chart, the Democratic ‘gain’ is shown across all 11 counties within the NY19:

Per County enrollment change 2016–18 for Democrats in NY19 | Data analysis and graph via author

Moving onto the Republicans, there is little to celebrate across the district, with only meager gains in Rensselaer and Sullivan county, and utterly deflated enrollment in all other counties across the district.

The losses per county generally balance the gains, with a slight aggregate rise for the Republicans in the NY19 | Data analysis and graph via author

In mapping the enrollment data, its clear that a spatially significant pattern for Democratic gains has occurred in the Hudson Valley core of the district, especially in Ulster county. The outer, eastern counties do not show in the map due to nearly indiscernible gains or losses in enrollment, regardless of party.

The geographic concentration of Democratic enrollment gains is decidedly centered along the Hudson Valley core of the district | mapped by author

A vote against Faso is a vote against continued inaction in the face of climate destruction

While a vote against John Faso is, at its least, a protest vote against Donald Trump, that is not why I’m voting against Faso. I’m voting against Faso to stop the continuation of 990 days straight with no voice, no action supporting NY19’s collective wellbeing threatened by yet more fracked gas overbuild tethering New York State, the country and the world to unmitigated climate doom. If NY19 continues to double down on Faso, its also doubling down on the very cause of its own climate destruction — uninterrupted inaction in the service of big oil and gas interests.

GIS Analyst & Instructor | Shale Gas Impacts, Environmental Justice & Climate Change Issues