In mid-2011, Evelyn Wood (center) presides over a Warren County Planning & Community Development Committee meeting in mid-2012. As Wood announced her candidacy for state Assembly Sunday, she said her experience chairing this committee would be useful, if elected, in pursuing the objectives of economic development and job growth, particularly in the Adirondacks. County Board of Supervisors Clerk Joan Sady (left) and Warren County Administrator Paul Dusek (right) flank Wood as she conducts the meeting.
Town of Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood announced mid-day Sunday that she’s a candidate for the state Assembly post to be vacated this December by Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro).
Wood joins several other area politicians that have expressed interest in running to represent the 113th Assembly District.
Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Stec announced his candidacy Friday, soon after Sayward publicized her impending retirement. Talk has also circulated that former Glens Falls Mayor Bob Reagan and Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas are interested in the post.
Wood, 34, was elected Thurman Supervisor in Nov. 2010 and took office immediately — because her predecessor resigned mid-term. The following November, she was unopposed in her re-election to the two-year post.
Wood said Sunday she was approached several months ago by people outside Warren County asking her if she’d run, and she was reached again Friday by these citizens about launching a candidacy.
She then contacted Warren County Republican Chairman Mike Grasso about running, and said she’d be interested in an interview with county G.O.P. Committee members. She has since sent a letter to the committee, formally asking the committee for their endorsement.
As Wood said that since most of Sayward’s 113th Assembly district is within the Adirondacks, her candidacy was a good fit.
Wood said that if elected, she’d be an effective legislator. Since she has lived in Thurman since birth, she was fully aware of the issues that Adirondackers face, she said.
“As a lifelong resident of the Adirondacks, I’m well aware of the major issues facing our constituents,” she said.
Wood said that Internet access, jobs, economic development and bolstering forest-related employment were the top issues that she’d be lobbying for.
She said that in dealing with the issues of her first two years, she gained valuable experience that she’d put to use if elected to the Assembly.
She said her experience in managing her town government’s response to the devastating storms of 2011 was at the top of that list.
Last Memorial Day weekend’s flash floods resulted in an estimated $7 million of damage in road and bridge washouts — representing about 10 times the town’s entire annual budget.
Regional officials praised Wood’s response to the widespread devastation, noting she worked around the clock to coordinate a local response effort, then spent countless hours detailing destruction in seeking disaster reimbursement from federal authorities.
She said that this experience working with FEMA officials would be particularly useful, as many towns in the Adirondacks had experienced destruction in 2011 storms.
“I’ve worked well with Albany and Washington, and I’ve developed a really good contact list — people I can get a hold of to get things done that need to be accomplished,” she said.
She said that her experience as Chairman of the Warren County Planning and Community Development Committee offered her experience that would be useful in working to boost the economy in the Adirondacks.
She said that expanding Internet broadband access in the park was a key factor in spurring economic development. For the past several months, Wood has been working to establish a public-private partnership to broadcast broadband signals throughout Thurman via the new“white space” technology. She’s already spent many hours in negotiations with optic cable providers, grant sources and technology gurus to accomplish the goal of getting all Thurman households connected.
She said that providing Internet access was a vital issue for most all of the rural towns in the 113th district.
“To retain the younger families in the Adirondacks, attract more residents and develop jobs, it’s very important to have Internet access,” she said.
Meeting the needs of farmers and pursuing the interests of the logging industry are also key objectives of hers, if she’s elected.
“I want to help farms not only stay viable, but grow,” she said. “And we’ve been losing logging jobs due to state land purchases and other factors, and I want to turn this situation around.”
At home, she and her husband Andrew Hall and her parents nurture a fair-sized plot vegetables, a small number of farm animals as well as two children — Catherine, 7, and Mable, 2.
Although when campaigning in 2010, some political observers were wary of her youth and lack of experience, soon after she was elected, she proved her ability to wield clout — whether it was slashing a town budget, negotiating a contract with the local ambulance squad, or responding to the devastating flash floods. Wood has achieved a reputation of getting things done, applying her strong will to overcome distractions and squelch opposition. She’s used her gavel at town meetings freely, preventing issues from getting sidetracked.
She said her goal-oriented attitude would be put to good use in Albany, if she were elected. She said she’d present a strong voice for local government, including small rural towns.
“Local government is struggling, and we need Albany to help us out,” she said.
“I’ve got the proven ability to look at both sides of an issue and work with others to find a middle path and make it work,” she said. “This is more important than ever.”