During a press conference held Sept. 1, Dr. Brian Muellers, the Democrat candidate for county legislator, 18th District, challenged the New York League for Conservation Voters' early endorsement of incumbent legislator, Republican John Canning. Supporting Dr. Muellers were Frank Morris, secretary and treasurer of the Green Party of Nassau County and William Steibel, political chair of the Long Island Sierra Club. The Green Party and the Long Island Sierra Club gave Dr. Muellers their endorsement for this year's November election.
In a letter to Michael White, the NY League of Conservation Voters board of directors chairman, Dr. Muellers states the League's decision to endorse the incumbent, Mr. Canning, was made in May, 1999, just a few days before Dr. Muellers announced his intention to run for the 18th L.D. and prior to when the Democratic party nominated him for office in early June. The NYLCV questionnaire for Long Island candidates specifies that to be considered for endorsement, "all candidates must return [this] completed questionnaire by June 18, 1999."
When reached for comment, the communications director of the NYLCV, Dan Klotz, said, "First of all, our early endorsements are given to only those politicians whose record merits reward in and of itself. Candidates who win our early endorsement are those already in public office with a demonstrated, reliable, record to lead the charge on behalf of the environment. Mr. Canning has a terrific environmental record. In Dr. Muellers' case, we were glad to receive his questionnaire and he does have some good credentials. He's a good guy, but when you compare him to someone like Mr. Canning who does the job consistently and with a track record, Mr. Canning received the endorsement."
Dr. Muellers said the League's May endorsement of Mr. Canning means he was not afforded an equal opportunity to have his environmental position and credentials reviewed and considered simultaneously with Mr. Canning's. "[I] request a good faith reconsideration by the League of its restrictive early endorsement decision. Upon close examination [the League] will find that during his legislative terms Mr. Canning has not taken a firm stand or done all that he could to protect and preserve our fragile ecosystem and the livelihood of future generations in this county. Mr. Canning has failed to support a call to ban the county's use of pesticides on municipal properties. For years he has neglected and delayed remediation at Welwyn Preserve and, despite his public song and dance on the subject of open space, Mr. Canning has failed to introduce any measure that would alter Nassau County's poor development patterns which continually support endless miles of pavement and strip malls."
The NYLCV has endorsed Mr. Canning stating, "[He] has: spearheaded efforts in the recent acquisition of a 1.7 acre parcel of land adjacent to the Mill Creek Preserve on Oyster Bay that is critical to the exchange of fresh and salt water in the surrounding habitat; supported a 25 percent increase in funding for the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District; sponsored legislation to assess saltwater intrusion into the North Shore's groundwater and securing funding, technical assistance and GIS data for the Hempstead Harbor Committee."
- Z. Christopoulos