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State and local ballot petitions set the playing field for September and November

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WATERTOWN — It’s an election year, and while the excitement over the Republican primary in the 21st Congressional District may have died down, the political season keeps rolling along with ballot petitions due this week for state and local races.

While the petition process is largely an exercise that holds little interest for outsiders, political watchers pay attention to the number of signatures collected as a way to gauge support for candidates.

This year, in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties especially, there are a few races of note.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell is facing opposition from three challengers.

John L. Byrne III, a town councilman from Cape Vincent, submitted his petitions Monday to the state Board of Elections in Albany. He said he filed 1,028 Republican, 138 Conservative and 274 Independence Party signatures, well above the minimum number of signatures required for each party line.

According to state election law, for the Republican of Democratic Party line for the Assembly, 500 signatures are required. For other parties, petitions must be signed by five percent of the active enrolled voters in the district.

As of April 1, 2014, there were 961 active Conservative Party members and 3,952 active Independence Party members enrolled in the 116th Assembly District.

John S. Humphrey, Brownville, is a retired chief petty officer in the Navy and a retired weapons inspector at Fort Drum. He is also challenging Mrs. Russell on the Republican line. According to Board of Elections filings, Mr. Humphrey submitted 74 pages of signatures. He did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

If both Mr. Byrne and Mr. Humphrey gain access to the ballot, they will face each other in a primary election in September.

Russell J. Finley, a farmer and real estate broker from Lisbon, is challenging Mrs. Russell on the Conservative line. He also did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs. Russell said she will submit her petitions Wednesday.

In the 117th Assembly District, Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush has submitted 79 pages of Republican Party signatures, 18 pages of Conservative Party signatures and 27 pages of Independence Party signatures. He is running unopposed.

State Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, and Elizabeth O’C. “Betty” Little, R-Queensbury, are also running for re-election. They are expected to run unopposed.

WHO’S RUNNING

116th Assembly District:

John L. Byrne III, Cape Vincent, Republican Russell J. Finley, Lisbon, Conservative John S. Humphrey, Brownville, Republican Incumbent Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa

Jefferson County sheriff:

John R. Bocciolatt, Republican Colleen M. O’Neill, Democrat Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau, Democrat

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