North country voters have some important decisions to make Tuesday when they step into the voting booth. There are quite a few contested political races this year, which is great. Competition is a healthy thing for democracy.
It is not important whether the person you support has an R, D or X next to their name. Whats important is where they stand on the issues that matter to you and what they can do to make the north country a better place to live, work and do business.
Educate yourself about the candidates from as many different information sources as possible before casting your vote, especially when it comes to the Assembly races affecting St. Lawrence County. There are fresh faces on the ballot who are probably not familiar to a lot of us: Republican Marc Butler and Democrat Joseph Chilelli in the 118th Assembly District, which includes parts of Oneida, Herkimer, Hamilton and Fulton counties and the St. Lawrence County towns of Madrid, Norfolk, Stockholm, Parishville, Pierrepont, Clare, Colton, Clifton and Fine; and Republican Janet Duprey, Conservative Karen Bisso and Democrat Timothy Carpenter in the 115th Assembly District, which includes all of Clinton and Franklin counties and the towns of Piercefield, Hopkinton, Brasher and Lawrence in St. Lawrence County. Mr. Butler and Mrs. Duprey are incumbents trying to keep their seats after their districts were dramatically affected by the states reapportionment.
These are troubled times for our region, state and country. I believe we would be wise to stick with incumbents, just because any progress they have made to fix whats wrong will most likely be undone if somebody else gets elected to their seats. Every candidate I am endorsing is an incumbent. Heres why:
48th state Senate District: I am voting for Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton. I do not always agree with Mrs. Ritchie, but there is no disputing that she is a tireless advocate for the north country. She works very hard to represent the district, which includes St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Oswego counties. She is extremely responsive to her constituents, and is accessible to them. Her emphasis on lowering taxes and helping businesses create jobs in the region is the attitude we need to succeed. She has a good relationship with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, which demonstrates that she doesnt care as much about party politics as she does about getting things done for the people she represents.
21st Congressional District: I like what I see in Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh. Mr. Owens is extremely accessible to his constituents. He has been on hand in Ogdensburg a couple of times over the last two months to talk to veterans about access to care and military benefits. He didnt just do it once for a campaign photo op. He came back for another round so he could talk to more vets. He sincerely wants to help them. He also has been actively engaged in trying to convince Canadian businesses that setting up shop in the north country will benefit them. He is an intelligent, compassionate human being who has served us well and will continue to be a strong voice for us in Washington.
President and vice president: I enthusiastically endorse President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. People might knock the Obama administration for not doing enough to turn our battered economy around, but I think the guy has done a good job under the cruddy circumstances he was handed. Nobody could have turned our economy around in four years. Nobody. His policies need more time to work. Even though its not tangible for a lot of folks, progress is being made on the economic front. Keeping him in office will keep that forward momentum going.
No matter who you support, dont take for granted that he or she will win on Tuesday. Every vote counts, so make sure you cast yours.