By CRISTINE MEIXNER
For the Express
LAKE PLEASANT — The 12 North Country Democratic Committee chairmen have endorsed Aaron Woolf as their candidate for the House of Representatives in New York state’s 21st Congressional District, including Linda Mitchell of Hamilton County.
Woolf, of Elizabethtown in Essex County, makes documentary films. He also owns a grocery store in Brooklyn, Urban Rustic. This is his first foray into politics.
Current Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) announced Jan. 14 that he is not running for another term in the House, launching the North Country Democratic committees into a search for a candidate.
The committee chairmen met Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake, where they interviewed two candidates before unanimously choosing Woolf. The other was five-year Marine veteran and current law student Trevor Johnson of Easton in Washington County.
Former Oswego Mayor John T. Sullivan Jr. was also a candidate for the endorsement until dropping out Tuesday. He currently practices law in Saratoga Springs. He says he dropped out because he disagrees with the committee chairmen choosing the candidates.
Former Assemblywoman Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava of Gouverneur had expressed interest in running for the position on the Democratic ticket. She ran for the post in 2009 on the Republican ticket, but dropped out the Saturday before Election Day and urged her supporters to vote for Owens rather than Douglas Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate. She switched parties and currently works for the Cuomo administration as deputy secretary of state.
Other high profile Democrats reportedly considered and decided against running for the seat: Assemblyperson Addie Russell, NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine (a former state legislator), former Rep. Scott Murphy of Glens Falls, and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay.
Woolf, 49, directed the documentary “King Corn,” which won a George Foster Peabody Award. It aired on PBS in 2008. It follows a crop of corn from the dirt of Iowa into the food system and looks at government policy regarding agribusiness.
He also made “Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City,” “Dying to Leave: The Global Face of Human Trafficking and Smuggling” and “Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and the United States,” all shown on PBS. The Sundance and Discovery channels have also broadcast his work.
A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, Woolf is currently a public speaker as well as grocer.
In a press release, Woolf said he was eager to campaign.
“I am proud to earn the unanimous support of the … 12 Democratic chairs and I am honored they have chosen me as the best candidate to continue Congressman Bill Owens’ work fighting for our middle class and protecting Medicare.
“I am looking forward to discussing my ideas about ways we can work together to spur our local economy, create new jobs, and protect all North Country families.__ Upstate New York is a great place to live, work, raise a family, and retire — but we need to make sure it stays that way for future generations.
“I’m committed to ensuring our kids have access to a quality education and will work to improve and enhance our region’s infrastructure so our local business can grow and our economy can thrive. __I am very eager to discuss my ideas and hear from North Country voters in the weeks and months to come.”
PRIMARY IN JUNE
Potential candidates may start collecting signatures on nominating petitions March 4. Primary elections will be held in June. The signatures of 1,250 enrolled voters of a political party are required to get on the primary ballot.
New York’s 21st Congressional District stretches from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain. It includes 12 counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer (partial), Jefferson, Lewis, Saratoga (partial), St. Lawrence, Warren and Washington.