By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — TUPPER LAKE — Tupper Lake Mayor and Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun is seriously considering entering the race for the 21st Congressional District seat.
“It’s been gnawing at me that this district might be represented by somebody who really doesn’t know the district,” he told the Press-Republican Tuesday.
“We need somebody who has been around and who knows about the Olympic history in Lake Placid, the tanning industry history in Gloversville, the St. Lawrence Seaway, Fort Drum and PARC (Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp.) and who is from here.”
Republicans have selected Elise Stefanik, 29, as their endorsed candidate to run for the seat being vacated by incumbent Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, who announced in January that he will not seek re-election.
Democrats chose Aaron Woolf, 49, who splits his time between Elizabethtown and Brooklyn.
While the two major parties have endorsed candidates, others can run in a primary on June 24. Candidates are allowed to begin getting signatures March 4 on petitions to enter the primary.
According to Clinton County Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Greg Campbell, 1,250 signatures are needed to get on the primary ballot.
Maroun, 62, said that although he is not endorsed by the Republican Party, he believes he can muster enough help to gather the required number of signatures, if he decides for sure to run.
“This is nothing against her (Stefanik), but I’ve talked to some party leaders in some of the counties, and I am willing to put up some of my own money, and I am confident I can get the signatures,” he said.
“I just don’t think it is fair to send someone to Washington to represent this district who really is not from here.”
Stefanik graduated from Albany Academy high school and went to Harvard. She worked in the administration of former President George W. Bush and was on the debate prep team for Rep. Paul Ryan, who was the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012.
Her family has owned a home in Willsboro her whole life, and she spent part of her childhood there, she told the Press-Republican last August.
The family owns a wholesale plywood business in Guilderland near Albany, where she handles sales, marketing and management for the North Country region.
She did not respond to attempts by the P-R to reach her on Tuesday.
Woolf is an award-winning filmmaker who owns a grocery store in Brooklyn, specializing in locally sourced and organic foods.
He was selected by Democrats last week, but no reachable telephone number for Woolf has been provided by party leaders, and he has not responded to email requests for interviews.
Maroun, has been a Franklin County legislator for 28 years and mayor of Tupper Lake for the past three years.
He served 23 years in the U.S. Naval Reserves Defense Intelligence Agency, reaching the rank of commander.
He has worked for former State Assemblyman Glenn Harris and former State Sen. Ronald B. Stafford and currently is an aide to State Sen. Betty Little.
“I am sure she (Stefanik) is very smart, but how can she know the district? And the other guy (Woolf), nobody can get any answers about him,” Maroun said.
“I am a regular guy who wears dungarees, drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and is a volunteer fireman, and that is what this district is all about.”
WILL DOHENY RUN?
A poll earlier this month reported by Politico showed that Republican Matt Doheny led Stefanik in name recognition by a count of 49 percent to 13 percent. Doheny, an investor from Watertown, lost close races to Owens in 2010 and 2012.
He also sought the Republican Party endorsement in the special election of 2009 but was passed over in favor of Assemblywoman Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava in a controversial selection.
Scozzafava dropped out of the 2009 race just three days before the election, as her poll numbers sagged. She gave her support to Owens and now works in the administration of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Doheny is said to be contemplating another run for Congress, and Maroun said that if Doheny does decide to run again, he will not challenge Stefanik in a primary.
“I will be talking to Matt, and if he decides to run, I probably won’t because it would just split the vote,” Maroun said.
Press-Republican calls and emails to Doheny were not returned.
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