Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood answers a question from a reporter during her town hall press conference, called Wednesday March 14 to announced that she's confirming her candidacy for the state Assembly seat of Teresa Sayward, who's retiring at the end of December.
Citing her deep local heritage and personal experience with Adirondack issues, Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood confirmed her intentions this week to run for the state Assembly seat to be vacated in December by Teresa Sayward.
Wood made her announcement Wednesday March 14 at a press conference in the Thurman Town Hall.
Noting that for years she had raised crops and livestock on her family farm and had carried pails of water with a wooden yoke over her shoulders — experience that gave her personal familiarity with the hardships and concerns of Adirondackers — and prepared her to be the best representative for the 113th state Assembly District.
“I have struggled to raise crops — including 600 hills of potatoes — I have worked in a woodlot, worked swing shift in a factory mill, and watched the generation I grew up with leave the area because they need jobs,” she said. “Forestry and farming provide the jobs our area must have to survive — they are deeply rooted parts of our history and heritage and these businesses need help,” she said.
Other declared candidates for the Assembly post are Republicans Lake Placid accountant Doug Hoffman, former Glens Falls Mayor Robert Regan, and Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec, who serves as Warren County Board of Supervisors. Democrat Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, is also a candidate.
Wood has been in office for less than 15 months, and Stec, who has in years past launched candidacies for both state Assembly and Congress, has been in office for 16 years.
Wood said Wednesday she didn’t view her lack of longevity as an obstacle, although some elder politicians have suggested she hasn’t yet “paid her dues” politically to earn such a run.
“We live in a democracy — citizens aren’t looking for the candidate that’s been in office the longest — we should choose the candidate best for the job,” she said.
Standing in the rear of the town hall, Thurman lumber mill owner Gary Martin listened to her defend her candidacy despite her short political tenure.
“She’s the right candidate, because she hasn’t been in politics long enough to be tainted,” he said. “She absolutely understands Adirondack issues at a very ground level.”
Two of the top issues facing Adirondackers, Wood said, are job development and Internet expansion.
“Our district needs job growth and we need to expand Internet access to businesses, communities and families,” she said.
“Reliable Internet access is as necessary as electricity — without it , we cannot compete in the modern world,” she said. “These problems hurt growth and development and are challenges to every person in the district.”
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.
Wood cited two personal characteristics that would be put to use if she were elected to the post — working long hours in tackling tough issues and the ability to see both sides of an issue.
The latter quality, she said, was employed in her accomplishment of reaching an agreement between the town and the local independent emergency medical services agency after the two parties had been at odds for years.
Her hard work ethic, she said, was demonstrated in her response to the disastrous 2011 Memorial Day flash floods, which devastated the town’s roadways and bridges and caused about $7 million in damage.
Since the disaster, state and federal officials have praised her thorough, detailed reports and inventories of the damage incurred.
She said her experience with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its state counterparts would serve the district well, as many towns and county governments are still awaiting state and federal reimbursements for flood damage.
“I’m deeply concerned the state has not refunded their 12.5 percent share of the disaster aid,” she said. “I’m very familiar with the emergency response efforts — I understand the reimbursement process — and I know what needs to change for local governments,” she said.
Amanda Barnes of Thurman watched her answer questions from reporters.
“As a town supervisor, she’s been extremely dedicated and invested incredible research into issues,” she said, noting that other town and county officials now consult her on FEMA reimbursement applications. “She’ll be great in Albany — not just another ‘Good Ole Boy.’”
Photo by Thom Randall