A roadside sign marks the entrance to Woolf's property in Elizabethtown, Essex County, New York.
ELIZABETHTOWN — A lone wolf has been introduced to the North Country… but remains elusive.
Since Feb. 12 when the 21st Congressional District Democratic committee chairs met in Long Lake and voted to endorse Aaron Woolf’s bid to run for the seat being vacated by Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh), the candidate has not publicly spoken with the press.
Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and co-owner of a grocery store in New York City with no political experience, is seeking to replace outgoing Congressman Owens, a Democrat who won the seat in 2009 after a contentious election against challengers Dede Scozzafava and Doug Hoffman that received national coverage.
In the three weeks since his selection, Woolf has remained quiet despite being blasted by editorial boards throughout the North Country for a perceived lack of transparency surrounding his campaign.
It wasn’t until Tuesday, March 4 when WWNY-7 cornered the candidate at a meeting with the St. Lawrence County Democratic Committee at Sergi’s Italian Restaurant in Potsdam that Woolf briefly stepped outside to address the media:
“We’re going to make an official announcement in a couple weeks and after that I will make myself available to the press, I’ll make myself available to everybody,” Woolf told WWNY-7’s Candace Dunkley.
Woolf had no comment when asked what issues are important to him in the North Country, which he was also taken to task for by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“It’s absolutely pathetic that Aaron Woolf has been running for Congress for weeks and still refuses to talk about the issues that are important to voters in the North Country,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ian Prior in a statement issued Wednesday, March 5.
“If this is the kind of candidate that Woolf is going to be, perhaps he should try running for a post like dog catcher before he seeks an office that requires open and honest dialogue of important issues.”
“Elise Stefanik, Matt Doheny and their special interest allies in Washington will say anything to distract voters from their race to the far right because they know that North Country families will reject their plans to stack the deck for special interests at the expense of the middle class,” responded Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Spokesman Marc Brumer.
Records obtained by the Valley News show Woolf registered to vote in Essex County on Feb. 7, 2014, five days before the chairs’ endorsement.
Prior to that, Woolf was registered in New York County.
Woolf owns 151 acres on County Route 9 in Elizabethtown assessed at $465,000. Those holdings were legally deeded to he and Sara Woolf by Harry and Patricia Woolf on Dec. 29, 1994.
It is unclear if Woolf resides at the residence, which is not visible from the road, how often he visits or how active he is in the community.
Woolf met with leaders in Canton earlier today and is scheduled to meet with Lake George officials tonight at the Fort William Henry Hotel at 7 p.m.
Warren County Democratic Committee Chair Lynne Boecher said at Woolf’s request, the meeting will be private because he wants to solidify everything before talking to the press.
“I have advised him to talk openly with the media,” said Boecher. “This very much indicates he’s a neophyte in this process.”
Woolf’s official campaign website shows the now-familiar stock photo of the grinning candidate clad in a blue Carhart jacket.
“The North Country is a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire,” it states. “But we need to make sure it stays that way for future generations.”
No contact information is available on the page.
An “Aaron Woolf for Congress” Facebook page was set up on Feb. 12.
“I’m running to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District. Protecting the middle class, growing our economy, and investing in our children,” it states.
It currently has 204 likes.
A personal Twitter page for Woolf describes him as a “documentary filmmaker and small-business owner” and shows 54 followers, but it was locked, which means the information is only visible to people who the account holder authorizes to view that information.
A campaign Twitter account had 40 followers and two tweets, both cheerful plugs to the campaign’s official website and Facebook account that were posted on Feb. 28.
GOP chairs held their conclave on Feb. 6 and selected Elise Stefanik, a political insider with strong national political ties, as their candidate. Joe Gilbert and Doheny have also thrown their hats into the race for the primary scheduled for June 24.
“I imagine Mr. Woolf is dodging the public eye to avoid discussing how Obamacare and liberals in Washington are hurting North Country families and businesses,” Doheny told the Valley News. “However, I’m very eager to engage Mr. Woolf in a spirited debate about how best to bring jobs and opportunity to the North Country.”
Thom Randall contributed to this report