Now that didnt hurt, did it?
Aaron G. Woolf, who has the party endorsement for the Democratic nomination in the race for the 21st Congressional District, ended a month of stealth campaigning Wednesday when he contacted the Watertown Daily Times and offered his thoughts on a range of issues. His entrance into the public realm is very welcome news.
This page has taken Mr. Woolf, who has residences in Elizabethtown and New York City, to task several times for his refusal to address various issues openly. He has spoken with many people throughout the district to gain a stronger sense of what issues are important to them, and he appears to have done some homework. There is tremendous value in discovering what moves and motivates people from a particular region when you want to represent them in government.
But we were concerned that Democratic leaders had already determined Mr. Woolf was the ideal candidate to succeed U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who chose not to seek re-election in this years mid-term election. The Democratic committee chairs from the 12 counties in the 21st Congressional District declared they were supporting his candidacy even before he officially announced he was a candidate or gave residents a chance to learn what issues he intends to pursue. Shutting out the news media did not inspire confidence that Mr. Woolf had any interest in subjecting himself to the questioning that potential constituents require to make an informed choice.
But after spending some time familiarizing himself with the north country, Mr. Woolf broke his near silence. And he demonstrated that he has a basic understanding of some of the issues that are on the minds of Northern New Yorkers. He has made good use of his time traveling throughout the district, and we look forward to continuing this discussion with him.
We also welcomed the news this week that Heuvelton resident Stephen W. Burke, who twice served as chairman of the St. Lawrence County Democratic Party, has jumped into the race to challenge Mr. Woolf in the primary. Contested races truly benefit people who want to find out what candidates are made of and how theyll respond once in office.
The Republican race also is contested, which makes this campaign season an even better one. Matthew A. Doheny of Watertown, Joseph M. Gilbert of DeKalb Junction, Elise M. Stefanik of Willsboro and James K. Waller of Lake Pleasant are working to get their names on the ballot in time for the primary.
With so many candidates jostling to get attention as well as votes, well have an opportunity to compare their similarities and differences. Perhaps well have a true competitive race based on how to address the many concerns the north country faces.