The Democratic candidate for Assembly in New York’s northernmost district was in Plattsburgh this morning to give supporters an enthusiastic update on his campaign. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports the race for the open seat is heating up.
Democrat D. Billy Jones held his “Moving Forward” event at Plattsburgh City Hall. The city council chambers were decorated with the trappings of a political campaign: placards, balloons and supporters overflowing into the foyer.
Jones, the current chair of the Franklin County Legislature, outlined a number of regional issues he feels he could successfully advocate for as a member of the Assembly majority. “Economic development and education are very strong issues. Always jobs, economic development keeping taxes low. I think education is a, is a huge issue right now has been for the past couple of years and those will certainly be some my priorities. But there are so many issues that we face. I mean it's hard to prioritize one over another. You have to be well rounded, know all the issues and you know really be committed to do jobs like this and I think I'm the qualified person to do that.”
The incumbent Republican representing the district, Janet Duprey, is retiring and backing Jones’ opponent, Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill. Jones introduced his own high-profile supporters. Former Congressman Bill Owens stepped up and noted that this is a rare opportunity for the district to elect someone to the Assembly majority. Democrats overwhelmingly control the chamber. “We can send a person who will be in the majority in Albany. He will demonstrate leadership. He will demonstrate common sense. He will demonstrate the ability to work across the aisle. And that to me puts together a package that makes him the most electable person in this race.”
Owens later noted that there are now more registered Democrats in the district than Republicans. “Clinton County has now got a majority of registered Democrats as does Franklin County. That's a huge change from really when I first ran and I think that that's going to have a dramatic positive impact.”
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman, a fellow Democrat, was in the crowd lending his support. He characterizes Jones as an exciting candidate who transcends party affiliation. “I've talked with Democrats, Republicans, Working Families, Independents, etc. that have met Billy. They're excited about Billy. They don't care about party affiliation. They want somebody that's going to go down to Albany and work for them and you know that's what we've got in Billy. You know if you look at his legislative experience he certainly has been a mayor and on the Franklin County legislature. But he's also been a civic leader. He has been in all of these counties advocating for this region and he has found a place at the table for others so that he can understand the concerns of what's going on but more importantly take those concerns and be able to make sure to bring them down to Albany where we need to see action to move forward.”
Jones, whose campaign theme is “Moving Forward,” reported that his fundraising is outpacing his Republican opponent. “We've got a great momentum with our donations. And your generous donations have exceeded those raised by my opponent by a margin of nearly four to one. So I'm so grateful and humbled for your energy and support on these fronts. So thank you so much.”
Jones also told the crowd that the campaign had successfully submitted petitions to be placed on the major party line, having collected more than 2,000 signatures. Five hundred were required.