By DAN HEATH
PLATTSBURGH — William Owens said job creation and health-care reform are among his top issues at a pair of gatherings in Plattsburgh Sunday.
Owens spoke at the Clinton County Democratic Party breakfast and the opening of the Clinton County Democratic Party headquarters.
He said if he's elected, he will work to help President Barack Obama get support from Congress. Owens said the president is trying to come up with the right answers to a number of critical issues, such as health-care reform and the economy.
"My job in going to Washington is to support the president in that process."
Health-care reform needs to happen, Owens said, but in a manner that doesn't harm small business, the main driver of the economy. With more than 25 years experience as counsel for CVPH Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital, he said he has a good grasp of the issues facing the health-care industry.
One way to save a lot of money would be to focus on preventive care rather than wait for disease or illness to hit.
Owens said he's part of a group that has helped bring jobs to the North Country for about 25 years. They started holding events in Montreal to entice businesses and industries to open a Clinton County location, a process that has since been picked up by local government officials and the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce.
Those efforts have been successful, to the point where more than 200 Canadian companies have a presence in the North Country. Owens said U.S.-content provisions can draw even more Canadian companies to the region.
"We have tremendous opportunities and options we can take advantage of."
New York State Democratic Party Chairwoman June O'Neill introduced Owens at both events. She said Owens will bring a voice of honest reason to Washington.
"We need someone who will go to Washington to fix the problem, not fix blame," she said.
Owens, an attorney from Plattsburgh, is running for the 23rd Congressional District seat that is being vacated by Republican John McHugh, recently confirmed as secretary of the Army. He is opposed by Republican State Assemblywoman Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava and Conservative Douglas Hoffman, an accountant from Lake Placid.
Scozzafava spokesman Matt Burns said Owens speaks in vague terms when it comes to health-care reform.
By e-mail, Burns said "People need to know why Bill Owens won't rule out taxing health-care benefits. Disturbingly, he retreats to his Obama/Pelosi-approved talking points when asked about this and every other issue."
Hoffman spokesman Rob Ryan said his candidate opposes all aspects of "Obama care."
"With ever-increasing deficits and ever-increasing taxes, this nation simply can't afford it," he said.
Ryan also said Hoffman is the only candidate in the race who really knows what job creation is about.
"He's a small-businessman with numerous companies throughout the district that have created jobs for hard-working New Yorkers and will continue to create jobs when elected congressman."
Burns said it's even more distressing Owens has yet to file the required financial disclosure.
"It's becoming more and more obvious Bill Owens has something to hide, and that's why he is dragging his feet in disclosing his business dealings," Burns said. "It's time for him to come clean; the people he hopes to represent deserve the facts."
In an e-mail, Owens spokesman Jon Boughtin said the Democratic candidate has filed an extension.
"There is a significant amount of information required to fully comply with the filing, and the campaign is in the process of compiling that information. In the meantime, we have filed for an extension and will complete the necessary paperwork as soon as possible."
Hoffman also has yet to file his financial disclosure. Ryan said he will do so before the deadline, which is 30 days before the election.
E-mail Dan Heath at: firstname.lastname@example.org