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District 9 will vote in county legislative race

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CANTON — The only St. Lawrence County legislative race this fall will pit incumbent Democrat Stephen M. Putman against challenger William L. Fobare, a Republican.

Mr. Putman, Canton, resigned from the Board of Legislators earlier this year so he could enter the state retirement system as he retired as superintendent of St. Lawrence Central School District. Legislators subsequently appointed him to his vacated seat after a committee of the Democratic legislators nominated him to fill the vacancy.

The appointment ends Jan. 1, opening up a race.

Political newcomer William L. Fobare, a Canton Central School bus driver and a member of Eugene Fobare Farms on the Kelly Road near Rensselaer Falls, saw the opportunity.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Mr. Fobare said. “I want to be out there as another option. I don’t want to be known as a party-line politician. I just want everything to be upfront.”

Mr. Putman, a former Canton village trustee, said he has learned a lot about county government in his three years as a legislator.

“I enjoy the work,” he said. “The Legislature has worked in a fairly bipartisan way.”

The county’s fiscal problems have been a challenge and difficult for employees who lost their jobs, such as when the Certified Home Health Agency closed, Mr. Putman said.

“I think it was something we had to do,” he said.

The county has about 150 employees fewer than it did when he became a legislator. Some cuts have resulted in better services, such as when the county ended its public bus program and worked with St. Lawrence NYSARC to expand its bus runs to all county residents.

“You don’t know until you start investigating,” Mr. Putman said. “I think the county has become pretty lean. Because of the lean times, we have some infrastructure issues that aren’t going to go away.”

Mr. Fobare said he believes more could be done to make the county more efficient.

“I’m kind of old-fashioned in that you can only do so much with what you have,” said Mr. Fobare, who also is running on the Conservative line.

The county has lost many businesses over the last 30 years and needs to promote itself more to companies outside the area, he said.

Mr. Fobare said the process of governing also should be opened up.

An opponent of the New York SAFE Act, Mr. Fobare said the county should have done more to reject the law.

It also should be more open to the input of its residents, possibly through online forums or town hall meetings. The Board of Legislators allows public comment at its meetings but that should be broadened, Mr. Fobare said.

“That time is limited,” he said. “I haven’t felt I’m being well represented.”

The Legislature could do better by focusing less on daily issues and more on the big picture, Mr. Fobare said.

“They spend so much time on issues they get caught up on,” he said. “I think they could be more productive with their time.”

Mr. Putman said he welcomed the competition.

“I think it’s healthy for a democracy,” he said.

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