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Democrats pick Essex County filmmaker Aaron Woolf as 21st Congressional candidate


The 12 Democratic Party committee leaders in New York’s 21st Congressional District have selected a documentary filmmaker from Essex County as their candidate to succeed Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

Aaron Woolf, Elizabethtown, emerged Wednesday as the endorsed candidate following a daylong selection committee meeting in Long Lake consisting of chairpersons from each county in the district, according to a statement released by Sheila A. Comar, Washington County’s party chairwoman and the appointed spokeswoman for the group.

“We unanimously agree that Aaron Woolf is the best candidate to continue Representative Bill Owens’s work to protect our seniors and the Medicare guarantee, middle class families, and reflect the independent spirit that makes the north country strong,” the statement read. “Woolf is a problem solver who will take a common-sense approach and is committed to working together to find solutions that create more jobs and spur New York’s economy.”

The endorsement may not be the last word on the matter, however, as former Democratic state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine said he is still considering a run. Meanwhile, another prominent potential candidate, former Assemblywoman Dierdre K. Scozzafava, said Wednesday that she has decided not to run.

According to the news release, Mr. Woolf, who could not be reached for comment, is a small-business owner who has written, directed and produced several award-winning documentary films. He and his wife, Carolyn, own a home in Elizabethtown on land his parents bought in 1968. They have a daughter, Eloise.

According to Mr. Woolf’s Twitter account, he is a long-form documentary filmmaker who owns a food shop in Brooklyn. A website for a film he produced and directed about the industrialization of farming, “King Corn,” indicates that he is a graduate of Middlebury (Vt.) College and earned a master’s degree in film at the University of Iowa.

St. Lawrence County Democratic Committee Chairman Mark J. Bellardini said Mr. Woolf demonstrated a good knowledge of the district, capably answering questions from the district’s Democratic Committee chairmen on a variety of issues.

“He exhibited interest in the district, he exhibited an interest in the infrastructure and in all of the needs of the district,” Mr. Bellardini said. “He’s very interested in learning about the problems and taking care of the problems.”

Despite Mr. Woolf’s unanimous endorsement, Mr. Aubertine, Cape Vincent, said Wednesday he still has not ruled out running for the seat after having “been approached by a good number of people” about doing so.

“I haven’t decided one way or the other yet,” he said Wednesday evening. “We’ll see what happens over the next several days.”

Mr. Aubertine, former commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets who now works for the state comptroller as special assistant for external affairs, said he did not attend the meeting in Long Lake and had not had the opportunity to talk to any county chairmen about Mr. Woolf’s selection. Mr. Aubertine said there is no timetable in which he will make a decision regarding his candidacy.

“I would assume until after the petitioning time, there’s room for anybody to run,” he said.

Ms. Scozzafava, Gouverneur, served in the Assembly as a Republican and remains registered with the party, but had also been discussed as a potential Democratic candidate, having been appointed deputy secretary of state for local government in 2011 by Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a position she still holds.

“I’m very content working in the Cuomo administration and have decided to withdraw my interest,” Ms. Scozzafava said. “I feel like I’m able to do quite a few things for the north country (as deputy secretary of state) and I’m enjoying doing that.”

Elise M. Stefanik, Willsboro, is the apparent Republican front runner, while Republicans Joseph M. Gilbert, DeKalb Junction, Michael F. Ring, Adams Center, and James K. Waller, Lake Pleasant, are also declared candidates. Former Republican candidate Matthew A. Doheny, Watertown, has remained silent about his intentions, despite a poll released last week that showed he led Ms. Stefanik 49 percent to 13 percent among likely Republican primary voters.

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