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St. Lawrence County legislative board makeup up for grabs

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CANTON — The outcome of a number of potentially close races for the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators could give Republicans the majority, while Democrats think they may pick up more seats.

Based on Thursday’s deadline for filing party nominating petitions with the county Board of Elections, there are nine contested races, including three that do not involve incumbents. Three Republicans are running unopposed, as are an equal number of Democrats.

The current board has a 9-6 Democratic majority.

Democrats will run on their accomplishments, county Democratic Chairman Mark J. Bellardini said.

“We have solutions,” he said. “It’s unfortunate the other side doesn’t have solutions and only know how to say ‘no.’ I think the general public believes we’ve done a good job.”

Mr. Bellardini said he expected Democrats to ride a wave to victory based partially on a memorandum of understanding recently reached among the state, county and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe that would settle a protracted land claims dispute and keep the flow of money coming from a state/tribal gaming compact.

“That’s historic stuff,” Mr. Bellardini said. “We’re creating a future for economic development. We’re moving forward. The nine incumbents are showing a direction.”

County Republican Chairman Thomas L. Jenison said he expected the GOP to have the edge.

“We have two mantras. It’s time for a change, which is true,” Mr. Jenison said. “The other is fiscal responsibility. We’re going strong on that. The financial people are just chomping at the bit.”

Mr. Jenison predicted Republicans would end up with a wide majority.

“I know it’s going to be 12-3,” he said.

Mr. Bellardini acknowledged some races appear tight.

“I think they’re all going to be close,” he said. “I think we’re in good shape, but they have some challenges.”

Mr. Jenison said Republican candidates have individual plans to win.

“They’re going to be different,” he said. “Each one has their own strengths and differences, depending on the kind of district it is. Some of them have six towns.”

Contested races where there is an incumbent are: District 1, where Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, is challenged by Donald J. Hooper; District 5, where Democrat Donald A. Peck, Gouverneur, faces opposition from Travis E. Dann; District 6, where Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb, is opposed by Larry D. Denesha; District 9, in which Stephen M. Putman, D-Canton, is challenged by Daniel E. Martin; District 10, where Jim A. Bunstone, D-Potsdam, will face off with Joe A. Timmerman, and District 12, in which Jason A. Clark, D-Norfolk, is opposed by John H. Burke.

Races where there will not be an incumbent are District 4, where Democrat Michele W. McQueer, Hammond, is running against Republican Joel J. LaPierre, Fowler, for the seat being vacated by Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler; District 7, in which Republican Jerry G. Moore and Democrat Rick Perkins, both of Parishville, will face off for the seat being vacated by Scott M. Sutherland, R-Pierrepont, and District 11, where Democrat Ryan C. Warr and Republican Chad Colbert will vie for the seat Daniel F. Parker, R-Potsdam, is giving up.

Legislators running without opposition are Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg; Gregory M. Paquin, D-Massena; Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington; Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Helena, and Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid.

Republican David W. Forsythe, Lisbon, is running opposed to replace Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon, who is not seeking re-election.

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