Jefferson County legislative District 10 encompasses the towns of Adams, Rodman, Lorraine and Worth. According to the Jefferson County Board of Elections, there are just under 4,500 voters in the district: 1,168 Democrats, 2,088 Republicans, and 1,744 voters from a smattering of other persuasions.
The district is the battleground for Democrat Donna J. Bohn and Republican Jeremiah J. Maxon. Their weapons: the handshake, the campaign flyer and the yard sign.
In many respects, the two candidates are a study in contrasts. As one might expect, they have widely divergent views on key issues at the county level, but they are also very different in terms of age, background and temperament.
Mrs. Bohn is 49 years old and brings a diverse set of skills to her campaign. A former nurse who convinced a national cleaning service to allow her to set up a franchise in Adams, she grew her small business from no employees and no income to nine employees and nearly $5,000 a week in revenue before selling the business in 2001. A newcomer to politics, she has made her business record a cornerstone of her campaign.
At 30 years old, Mr. Maxon is nearly 20 years younger than Mrs. Bohn. He makes up ground he lost in age and life experience with energy, charisma and political sophistication. A past volunteer with campaigns for state Assembly, Senate and U.S. Congress, Mr. Maxon has had extensive exposure to political scene in the north country. He often says that he began attending Jefferson County Board of Legislators meetings when he was just 16 years old.
Michael W. Behling has been a popular and well-liked legislator for District 10 for 17 years. In June he announced that he would be stepping down from the board at the end of his term.
Though hes a Republican and has formally endorsed Mr. Maxon, Mr. Behling said that he has been impressed by the prodigious effort both candidates have put forward over the past few months introducing themselves to voters.
Theyve been out banging on doors ... Ive been visited by both Donna and Jeremiah, Mr. Behling said.
That house-to-house and street-to-street mentality may make the difference for the Democratic candidate in a largely conservative district.
Weve had a lot of Republican support. Weve talked to a lot of people who say they dont vote the party line anymore, they vote for the right person, said Jeffrey S. Bohn, Donnas husband.
Its a fight that Jefferson County Democratic Committee Chairman Ronald H. Cole insists Mrs. Bohn can win.
Of Mr. Maxon, Mr. Cole said, Ive heard hes been telling people hes got this election in the bag. Maybe he does, maybe he doesnt. Nobodys voted yet. He may be in for a surprise.
Traversing the district on cold and sometimes rainy October nights, both candidates began the final push toward Nov. 5.
On a chilly Tuesday night, the Bohns drove down Lyons Corners Road in the town of Adams.
For the better part of an hour, Mr. and Mrs. Bohn talked with Theresa M. and Richard B. Kohl. The discussion ranged from the ins and outs of long haul trucking to the number of welfare recipients in the country to the weather in South Carolina.
Mrs. Bohn said she typically stops at between ten and fifteen houses in a night.
On a rainy Thursday night, Mr. Maxon went up North Street in Adams Center, visiting at least eight houses over the course of about two hours.
I have a 2 year old and an 8 month old at home. Its my home, thats why I want to be on the legislature, Mr. Maxon said.
Both candidates pitch themselves to voters as offering new ideas. When it comes to the issues, they are divided on some and in agreement on others.
Mrs. Bohn said that she would be in favor of expanding the jail to reduce transportation and overtime costs at the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department. The expansion would also allow the county to take in extra inmates to offset construction costs, she said.
Mr. Maxon said that he would be in favor of expanding the jail if the sheriff could present compelling numbers to the board that would justify the cost of construction.
However, he said, From what Ive hear the numbers dont make sense to build the jail.
Both candidates said they would support a proposal to partner with the state to try to house inmates at empty state prison dormitories in the county.
And while Mr. Maxon said that he would have voted against the large armored vehicle recently acquired by the Sheriffs department, Mrs. Bohn said she would have supported the resolution to keep the vehicle.