Last Thursday, North Country state Assemblywoman Janet Duprey announced that she would retire after representing her district for 10 years. On Monday, a fellow Republican from Franklin County stepped up to run for the seat.
The 115th Assembly District includes Clinton and Franklin counties and a part of eastern St. Lawrence County. Democrat D. Billy Jones, the chair of the Franklin County Board of Legislators, had announced in March that he would run for the Assembly seat. Now jumping in is Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill, sworn in in January 2011 after working as a corrections officer and a New York State trooper. He said following discussions with family and advisors over the weekend he decided to enter the race. “The decision to jump in actually came over the weekend. Janet had announced on Thursday and that kind of pushes it to the forefront. And we're getting close to, you know, petitions and endorsements and whatnot so I discussed it with my family, my extended family, over the weekend and some friends and some people that I would consider close advisors and came to a general agreement that it could be a good position to have and I could do a lot of good things for the North Country. It's not very often that lawmakers get the enforcement side. Sometimes they sit back and they make laws that maybe sound good and are good in theory but the actual reality in the enforcement and what not is sometimes a little more cumbersome and a little more difficult than what you see on the floor of the assembly.”
Franklin County Republican County Chair Ray Scollin called Mulverhill the best candidate and a tremendous asset for the 115th district. “Kevin has been a tremendous sheriff for Franklin County. He has advocated for all the residents of Franklin County. He has created programs that have been very successful in the county. He has also enjoyed a strong relationship with Assemblywoman Duprey and I think it's fair to say that she's even done a fair amount of mentoring with Kevin in preparing him for this possible run one day. So I don't think this is a unexpected run for Kevin Mulverhill.”
Clinton County Republican Committee Chair Don McBrayer notes that a couple people have expressed some interest in running for the Assembly seat but have not made it official. “Once Janet had announced that she was going to retire that kind of did open an opportunity. So Kevin's announcement really did not surprise me. I've heard nothing but good things about him and I will certainly invite him to introduce himself to the Clinton County committee. If anyone from Clinton County wishes to throw their hat in the ring they are absolutely welcome to do so. If a primary happens it happens. We'd like to avoid one. It’d be nice because then we can concentrate all of our energy on the November election. But in the event of a primary then we roll up our sleeves, get to work, and we conduct the primary.”
Sheriff Mulverhill may face extra scrutiny as investigations swirl over allegations his department used targeted traffic stops to harass county legislators and discriminated against the deputy who is the alleged whistleblower. Mulverhill downplays the events and doesn’t believe there will be any impact on his Assembly campaign. “The full story hasn't come out yet. There’s a number of investigations that are going on. I fully expect everybody to be involved to be exonerated. Without going into a lot of detail I mean there's some basic things that happened that occurred that were supposed to happen. Some people have muddied the waters so to speak but I think that's going to all get cleared up.”
This is the first time in years that two contenders from Franklin County have run for the Assembly seat. Democrat D. Billy Jones did not return calls in time for broadcast. He issued a statement noting that he would be the strong voice needed in the Assembly to lead the economic transformation of the North Country.