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St. Lawrence County legislators gear up for fall election

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CANTON — Every St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators seat will be on the ballot in November.

While still early in the campaign season, all but four legislators — all of them Republicans — intend to run. Democrats have a 9-6 majority on the board.

Legislator Alex A. MacKinnon, R-Fowler, is retiring, and Legislator Scott M. Sutherland, R-Pierrepont, will not seek re-election. Legislator Mark H. Akins, R-Lisbon, is undecided, and Daniel F. Parker, R-Potsdam, was silent about his intentions.

“I haven’t announced yet,” Mr. Parker said. “We have a plan to coordinate those announcements, and I wouldn’t want to give an indication either way.”

Mr. Akins said he will try to make his plans known by sometime in April.

“I just haven’t made my decision yet,” he said. “I’m pretty confident if I decide to run, I’ll be a strong contender. I vote my conscience.”

Mr. Sutherland, who is serving his first term on the board, said he decided to bow out because of family issues.

“I really love serving. I really love this county,” he said. “It’s family that really drives it at this time.”

Mr. MacKinnon announced in February he was stepping down after 21 years on the board.

In the last election, Legislators Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, Frederick S. Morrill, D-DeKalb Junction, Gregory M. Paquin, D-Massena, and Donald A. Peck, then a Republican but now a Democrat, were unopposed, but that may not happen this year. Both Republican and Democratic party leaders say they hope to have a race in each district.

Larry D. Denesha, DeKalb Junction, has announced he will run against Mr. Morrill.

Many legislators said they welcomed competition to better publicize issues and give voters a choice.

“Nobody should run unopposed,” Mr. Lightfoot said. “I hope we have a lot of competition this year.”

Legislator Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, said he would be surprised if he was not targeted because of his conservative stances.

“I expect they will find somebody,” he said. “I count the business of the county as if it were my own money, and I’m a tightwad. I don’t have any hidden agendas. It’s easier to do the right thing.”

Other legislators expected to run are Chairman Jonathan S. Putney, D-Waddington, Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, Stephen M. Putman, D-Canton, Jim A. Bunstone, D-Potsdam, Jason A. Clark, D-Norfolk, and Anthony J. Arquiett, D-Helena.

“Absolutely I’m running,” Mr. Arquiett said. “I look forward to serving the people the next four years.”

County Democratic Committee Chairman Mark J. Bellardini declined to name any of the candidates lining up to run against Republicans.

“They’ll be coming out soon,” he said. “We’re looking at all 15 districts.”

Republicans are also gathering their forces, GOP Committee Chairman Thomas L. Jenison said.

“We’re still looking to see which incumbents are not running,” he said. “We should have it nailed down in April. We have quite a few people we’re talking to, and we’re always ready to talk with more.”

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