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Congressional candidates criss-cross NY21; Jefferson County Sheriff’s candidates talk fine art

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Activity in the race for New York’s 21st Congressional District has perked up of late as Labor Day approaches and the candidates begin building momentum for the fall political season and the general election in November.

Democrat Aaron G. Woolf will be in Jefferson County Wednesday the day after he appeared in Republican Elise M. Stefanik’s backyard. He will attend a meet and greet event from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sackets Harbor Brewing Company, 212 W. Main Street.

Mr. Woolf, a documentary filmmaker with a home in Elizabethtown, was in Willsboro Tuesday to visit the Champlain Valley Senior Community with Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh and to talk about preserving Medicare. Mr. Owens is not seeking re-election.

Ms. Stefanik, a former George W. Bush White House policy adviser who lives in Willsboro, is scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Tupper Lake Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, will attend the event at the VFW hall in the village.

Ms. Stefanik, a 2006 Harvard graduate, also worked as director of debate prep for the vice presidential campaign of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. She now works for Premium Plywood Products, a distribution company owned by her family.

The Woolf campaign has used Ms. Stefanik’s ties to Mr. Ryan and the Republican Party establishment to criticize her for proposals advanced by the party, such as privatizing Social Security or turning Medicare into a voucher program. Ms. Stefanik’s campaign has repeatedly denied these charges.

As the two major party candidates criss-crossed the district and sparred over policy points, Green Party candidate Matthew J. Funiciello said he was taking a day to take care of accounting and payroll business at his Glens Falls bakery and cafe.

Reached by phone, Mr. Funiciello spoke at length about his positions on the proposed missile site at Fort Drum, which he opposes; raising the minimum wage to $15, which he supports; and the situation in Ferguson, Mo., which he said has been exascerbated by the militarization of the country’s police forces.

Mr. Funiciello also said he believed Mr. Woolf, who won a Peabody award for his documentary “King Corn,” entered the race to make a movie about running for Congress.

“I absolutely believe that had to be the reason he decided to run,” Mr. Funiciello said.

“I would love to make a movie about running for Congress. I would want to make a movie about winning the seat and making a difference,” he said.

— DPF

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While police officers and fine art are not exactly synonmous, it turns out that at least two of the candidates running for Jefferson County Sheriff have had extensive contact with the art world in the last few months.

Colleen M. O’Neill, one of the two Democratic candidates for Jefferson County Sheriff, is holding an “Art Auction” fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Masonic Temple, 242 Washington Street.

The event will feature paintings, drawings, photography, pottery, decoys, stained glass, quilts and other items from more than a dozen local artists, according to Ms. O’Neill.

The auction, which will be conducted by professional auctioneer Justin Burrows of LaFargeville, will begin at 8 p.m.

Ms. O’Neill, a retired state police senior investigator, said it was her appreciation of the work produced by local residents that gave her the idea to hold the auction.

“I’m surrounded by talented people — I know a lot of local artists. I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase their talents and possibly raise some money for the campaign,” Ms. O’Neill said.

Tickets for the auction are $25 per person or $40 per couple and include hors d’oeuvres, music and a cash bar.

Meanwhile, John R. Bocciolatt, the Republican candidate for Sheriff, is wrapping up an investigation into the disappearance of more than $300,000 worth of fine art stolen from the home of a wealthy physician and his ailing wife in the Portland, Ore., area.

Mr. Bocciolatt, a Watertown native, embarked on a career as a private investigator after retiring as a detective sergeant from the Portland Police Bureau. He returned to the north country in 2013 and launched his campaign for sheriff in December.

Mr. Bocciolatt said that 114 pieces, mostly Native American pottery, went missing from the couples’ home before resurfacing on the internet through auction houses and other dealers.

As a result of the investigation, the family has recovered more than $200,000 worth of missing art, according to Mr. Bocciolatt.

Mr. Bocciolatt said that despite not being “really an artsy type of guy,” he developed an appreciation for the objects during the course of his investigation.

Jefferson County Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau, who is facing Ms. O’Neill in the September Democratic primary, said that he has not had any exposure to the art world lately, but that he does like art.

“I think art helps you relax,” Mr. Trudeau said. “I love paintings of bald eagles. I’ve seen a lot of different paintings I like but I don’t know if that counts.”

Oddly enough, art and police officers have a bit of a history. In 2009, the Smithsonian Magazine ran a story about a course at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that aims to teach New York City Police officers and other law enforcement agents about the powers of observation and the necessity to take in the “big picture.”

It’s a concept that Mr. Trudeau said he found intriguing.

Mr. Trudeau is hosting a campaign event from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Snack Shack Family Fun Center, 20768 Route 12F. Kids meal and fun center pass is $6.

All three candidates are scheduled to attend a forum sponsored by the Greater Watertown North Country Chamber of Commerce from 4-6 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St.

— DPF

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