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Copenhagen trustee seeks late uncle’s seat on Lewis Legislature

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COPENHAGEN — A village trustee and retired Fort Drum firefighter is hoping to keep the District 3 seat on the Lewis County Legislature in the family.

Gerald S. Snyder, a nephew through marriage of the late Legislator Charles R. Fanning, R-Copenhagen, will face off against fellow Republican Craig P. Brennan, a retired police investigator and businessman from Deer River, on Sept. 10 in a GOP primary for that legislative seat.

“This gives people a choice,” Mr. Snyder said. “I think that’s very important in politics.”

The eighth-year trustee, who has served as deputy mayor for the past five years, was tapped a few weeks ago by a Republican vacancy committee to replace Mr. Fanning, who died July 27 at the age of 73, on the ballot.

Since then, he has been visiting residents in the revamped District 3 — which through redistricting now encompasses most of the town of Denmark, except for the Castorland area, along with the northern part of the town of Lowville — to seek their support.

“I love working with people,” Mr. Snyder said. “I like meeting people, and I like helping people.”

Mr. Fanning also was slated to face off against Mr. Brennan in a Conservative primary, but county election officials said that line will not transfer to his nephew, since there was no vacancy committee for that party; Mr. Brennan also holds the Independence Party line.

That means Mr. Snyder will have to win the Republican primary to get his name on the November general election ballot.

“If nothing else, I’m just having fun getting around and talking to people,” he said.

Mr. Snyder said he hasn’t had a lot of time to consider what he would like to accomplish, if elected, but said he is open for suggestions.

“It’s not what Gerald Snyder wants, it’s what the people want,” he said.

One characteristic the candidate says he shared with his late uncle is fiscal conservatism.

“I don’t believe in throwing money away,” Mr. Snyder said. “I’m definitely not out to waste people’s money.”

Mr. Snyder, a 1965 graduate of Copenhagen Central School, grew up working on his family farm, then was drafted into the Army and served for two years before being honorably discharged.

He returned to Lewis County, working at the former Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper mill and in construction for a number of years before becoming a professional firefighter at Fort Drum, from which he retired after 23 years of service. He served as union president for 12 years while working at the base.

Since retirement, Mr. Snyder has worked as a substitute teacher, tutor and coach for both wrestling and soccer.

He also has helped out his brothers at Snyder Bros. Construction for 40 years in building houses and barns and installing farm equipment.

“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, that’s for sure,” Mr. Snyder said.

He has served as president of the Copenhagen Central School Alumni Association for 10 years, Pee Wee Wrestling Club treasurer for 15 years, a modified wrestling coach for 26 years, a modified soccer coach for 11 years and a member of the Copenhagen Fire Department for 46 years, serving as president for eight of them.

Mr. Snyder and his wife, Mary Anne, have been married for 44 years and raised three children: Melissa, Mark and Greg.

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