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Early voting begins Saturday for contested races in the city of Plattsburgh

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Lucas Willard
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Early voting in New York’s local primaries begins Saturday. In Clinton and Essex Counties there are few contested contests and most are in the city of Plattsburgh.

In Plattsburgh, all the primary races are among Democrats. In the mayoral contest, Dan Lennon is challenging Clinton County Legislator Wendell Hughes after current Mayor Chris Rosenquest announced he would not run for a second term. Rosenquest instead is running a primary challenge against incumbent Elizabeth Gibbs in Ward 3. In the city’s Ward 6, incumbent Jeff Moore faces a primary challenge from newcomer Amy Collin.

Clinton County Board of Elections Republican Commissioner David Souliere says the Plattsburgh primaries are the only ones in the county.

“The only three races that are on the ballot for the June primary are within the city of Plattsburgh and the only eligible voters are Democrats that live in Ward 3 and Ward 6 for council race and then there’s a mayoral that would cover all wards in the city.”

Souliere explained the options voters have for voting in the primary.

“All of the eligible voters for the primary election that are either military or overseas voters or voters that have a permanent absentee status or requested absentee status, they started receiving ballots approximately two to three weeks ago,” Souliere said. “And then absentee ballots for all other residents are available upon request. So if somebody is out of town on election day then they can request a ballot either on line or via our office by phone or by email. The other option for people for voting in this primary is early voting which starts this Saturday June 15th and that runs until Sunday June 23rd.”

During early voting, the only location to cast ballots in-person is the Clinton County Government Center. On primary day June 25th, Souliere says polling sites will be open across the city.

“On Election Day itself the voters that live in Ward 1 and Ward 2 they vote in the OLVA Parish Center and that’s over on South Catherine Street,” reports Souliere. “And then our voters in Ward 3 they vote at the Plattsburgh State Field House. Voters in Ward 4 vote at the First Assembly of God Parish Center on Prospect Avenue. And then our Ward 5 and Ward 6 voters vote at the Government Center.”

Souliere says there are about 4,600 registered Democrats in the city of Plattsburgh.

“It’s really hard to gauge turnout year by year but if we look historically at primaries in the city of Plattsburgh, and just primaries overall, usually we see about a 15 to 20 percent turnout,” notes Souliere. “So considering the number of eligible voters, you would expect that if it’s a traditional year somewhere between a thousand and twelve hundred and fifty voters is where I could see an estimate.”

The city Democratic party in late February endorsed the incumbents in the ward races and Wendell Hughes in the mayoral race. The move drew criticism from Hughes’ primary challenger Dan Lennon, who questioned the appropriateness of endorsing candidates before the primary. Plattsburgh City Democratic Chair Sue Moore, who is the wife of the Ward 6 incumbent, said party bylaws allow such action.

“The committee looks at all the candidates and they weigh out their experience and different things and we’ve got some people that have been on there a long time,” Moore said. “And I know that Dan Lennon tried to insult the committee and people on the committee were insulted by some of the comments because they do take these things seriously and they do weigh out who they feel that we’re endorsing is the best candidate. Yes the voters in the wards get to pick. I feel good about Jeff and Elizabeth’s races. But primaries are a funny thing, that low voter turnout.”

The only primary in Essex County pits Republicans James Curran and Mark Lashway in a race to fill an unexpired term on the Moriah Town Council.

Early voting takes place from June 15th to the 23rd. The primary election is June 25th.

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