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Democratic congressional candidate Woolf appears in Watertown

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Making his first-ever visit to Watertown, Democratic congressional candidate Aaron Woolf said Friday that job creation is emerging as the top issue on the minds of voters he has met since starting his travels across the 12-county region that makes up the 21st Congressional District.

“Jobs are the most important issue,” he said. “We have to be thinking about our future, to be thinking about our young people.”

Mr. Woolf, a documentary filmmaker with a residence in Elizabethtown, Essex County, came to Watertown to meet with Jefferson County Democratic leaders at the Masonic Temple on Washington Street. Prior to the closed-door gathering Friday afternoon, Mr. Woolf spoke with the media for about 10 minutes, something of which he has done very little since emerging Feb. 12 as the candidate endorsed by Democratic county leaders to succeed U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who is not seeking re-election.

Mr. Woolf said his lack of media exposure has been by design as he learns more about the district. He now has visited seven of the 12 counties. He repeated an earlier vow to make himself more available to the media once he formally announces his candidacy, which he said will occur in the next few weeks.

Acknowledging that he is a political newcomer, Mr. Woolf said he is concentrating his early campaign efforts on listening to voters’ concerns.

“My main thing right now is talking to people and hearing what’s important to them,” he said. “I’m not a politician. I’m not an operative. I’ve never run for office before.”

Mr. Woolf said he has spent 20 years creating documentaries — “telling stories of how policy affects people” — and he views his foray into the congressional race as an “extension” of that work. His most prominent film, “King Corn,” considers, among other things, the impact of industrialization on family farms. Mr. Woolf said he recognizes that agriculture is “hugely important” to the north country.

He said his family has had a connection to the north country since 1968, when it acquired the property on which he now spends part of his time.

He also is an owner of an organic food grocery store in Brooklyn.

“I have a great passion for this district,” he said.

Mr. Woolf likely will face either Elise M. Stefanik, Willsboro, or Matthew A. Doheny, Watertown, as the Republican candidate.

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