In May, New York state Assemblywoman Janet Duprey announced that she would retire from the 115th district seat. The two individuals seeking to replace her in the multi-county district are from Franklin County.
Republican Kevin Mulverhill is the current Franklin County sheriff. He worked as a corrections officer for a few years and then retired after two decades with the state police. Democrat D. Billy Jones ran his family dairy farm before working as a corrections officer. He then served as mayor of Chateaugay before being elected to the Franklin County Legislature, which he has chaired since 2013.
Mulverhill became familiar both locally and nationally during the 2015 manhunt for the Dannemora prison escapees, who were eventually captured in his county. The Republican says the state capitol is a mess and dealing with corruption is a priority. “ Ethics reform is almost first and foremost and I and it's one of those if we don't get it done this year you know is it too late? There are different issues at different parts of the district but almost everywhere I go we talk about the heroin-opioid epidemic. You know we talk about jobs. We talk about infrastructure. We talk about broadband. Those usually come to the front.”
Democrat Billy Jones touts his experience working across the aisle as the chair of the Franklin County Legislature. He says he has a history of bringing jobs to the North Country, including helping save the Macadam Cheese plant. “I will always fight for jobs here in the area because as I travel around the district the top two or three things that people always say to me are we need good quality jobs here in the North Country. I was also part of the Hotel Saranac, the historic restoration, and that being on the Regional Economic Development Council. That will help our tourism here in the 115th District. Those things are very important to us and I feel I can work across party lines and push to get more of those projects here in the North Country.”
Mulverhill challenged Jones regarding a leaked internal poll the Democrat conducted. While it went before the State Board of Elections, Jones says it failed to gain traction with voters as an issue. “My opponent's done plenty of polls. I've never questioned any of his. Um, yeah the poll was leaked. We provided all the information that we ah that we had to. We kept providing it. My opponent spent almost two months talking about that. You know how many times I was asked about that poll? Zero. It seemed to be of great concern to my opponent but I don't think it was of concern to voters at all.”
In August a Franklin County undersheriff pleaded guilty to harassment, avoiding a trial for misconduct. According to the Malone Telegram, emails show the county manager at the time ordered the undersheriff to track three county legislators because their actions were not favorable to the sheriff’s agenda. The undersheriff was suspended and Mulverhill did not reappoint him. He says it may be an issue for a few voters, but has not had a significant impact on his campaign. “The voters are smart. You know, they'll look into the background of the case and they'll make their own decisions.”
Mulverhill says his projects focus on issues that impact families. “If you go back at my sheriff’s experience in the last six years the programs that we’ve been able to develop here, Project Lifesaver to help kids with special needs in the event they get lost. We had a drug take back program. We've held oh probably five heroin forums. We've been at the forefront of a lot of the issues that have been up and coming and you know talk about the state mandates there are a ton of state mandates you know with running the jail. And we've been able to comply with those and I’ve come in under budget every year.”
Retiring Republican Janet Duprey has held the Assembly seat for the past decade. Her predecessor Republican Chris Ortloff held the seat since 1986. Voter registration, however, favors Democrats.
The 115th Assembly district is comprised of Clinton and Franklin counties and four towns in St. Lawrence County.