QUEENSBURY Whoever Aaron G. Woolf was before he decided to enter the race for New Yorks 21st Congressional District documentary filmmaker, organic grocer, environmental advocate he rapidly is transforming into a political candidate who has built a respectable following among Democrats in the eastern part of the district.
Several dozen supporters turned up at a campaign event Monday night at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 773 office and training center complex, 37 Luzerne Road. They were surprisingly vocal in their support for Mr. Woolfs comparatively young candidacy.
Ive been a Democrat my whole life, said John B. Reilly, who runs Northeast Electronics Recycler in Glens Falls. Republicans refuse to acknowledge reality. They keep fighting amongst themselves. We need aggressive thinkers and Aaron is one.
Mr. Reilly was joined by William P. Mason, property manager at Takundewide resort on Lake George.
I came here mainly to hear his speech. I dont know much about Aaron, but the things hes talking about rebuilding the middle class, a progressive tax structure thats not revolutionary left-wing rhetoric; thats moderate, mainstream America. I had a very positive impression, Mr. Mason said.
Mr. Woolf was selected by the chairpersons of the Democratic committees of the 12 counties in the district in February and, after being suddenly thrust into the spotlight, he has ramped up his campaign significantly. He plans to open an office in Plattsburgh this week.
Mr. Woolfs candidacy also has gained the support of Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattburgh, and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.
Mr. Owens represents the 21st Congressional District but is not seeking re-election. Mr. Tonko represents New Yorks 20th Congressional District. Both men have endorsed Mr. Woolf and have been frequent guests on his campaign tours of the district.
Mr. Owens joined Mr. Woolf on the campaign trail Monday in Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties, and Mr. Tonko introduced him at the unions training center, where he delivered a series of rousing remarks aimed at drumming up support not only for Mr. Woolf but for economic policies he said would make more sense for the working class.
Thats what its about, Mr. Tonko said. Its not about a campaign of getting Aaron Woolf elected to Congress; its not about getting another Democrat elected and regaining a majority. Thats important, but its about setting a new direction for America.
Ive never had an introduction like that in my life, Mr. Woolf said.
Mr. Woolf spoke of his tour of businesses in the district that day and the need for advancements and repairs to both technological and physical infrastructure, the need for innovations in the way medical care is delivered, the need for equal pay for both men and women and the need for training programs similar to the kind offered by the local union to train both men and women in science, technology, engineering and math.
If we can train women in the STEM fields, wed have the kind of workforce that could be competitive, Mr. Woolf said. Were not training our women as well as our men and were not training our men as well as we could be.
Mr. Woolf concluded his remarks by speaking of the importance of labor unions.
When people say labor is a thing of the past, everything about this building speaks of the future, Mr. Woolf said. We need all of you on our team. Im so incredibly grateful. We have a bright future in this district. ... Thank you for showing me just how far weve come since that February day. I feel the wind in our sails and Im grateful.
Mr. Woolfs supporters, who offered murmurs of encouragement during his speech, rewarded him at the end with a standing ovation.
After the meeting, Mr. Woolf, a documentary filmmaker, attributed part of the enthusiasm for his campaign to his unconventional candidacy, which offers a departure from the status quo.
He also said that much of his success has been due to the frustrations many people are feeling toward Washington D.C.
In recent years, Congress has been marked by a lack of civility, partisan brinkmanship and dysfunction, Mr. Woolf said.