Part-time dispatcher to challenge incumbent Waldron for Area 6 seat

·5 min read

Oct. 23—PLATTSBURGH — Part-time Clinton County 911 dispatcher Aaron Fung, a Republican, is challenging incumbent Democrat Patty Waldron for the Clinton County Area 6 legislature seat.

The Press-Republican spoke with both candidates about issues that face Area 6 — which covers all of the towns of Black Brook and Saranac, and parts of the towns of Plattsburgh and Dannemora — and why they should be elected.

Name: Aaron Fung

Age: 41

Party line(s): Republican, Conservative

Occupation: Manager for a local oil company, 21 years; part-time Clinton County 911 dispatcher, almost seven years

Education: High school diploma, Chazy Central Rural School

Family: Wife, Jacklyn; two adult children; one grandchild

Civic organizations: Former youth sports coach; former member of the Town of Jay and Town of Black Brook Youth Commission; former fire and EMS member

What do you think are the most pressing issues for Area 6 and Clinton County and how would you address them?

"We need more economic development, and that comes in the form of attracting more business to the area in terms of manufacturing and the tech sector. We need to work (more) heavily with the North Country Chamber of Commerce ... and along with that comes the airport development plan.

"We need to reinvent ourselves and then what the post-COVID economy looks like. We need ideas and innovation on how to do that. We need to partner with our local food producers, like local ag markets with a more buy local campaign. You see what's going on. You're in the grocery stores, you see the shortages. This is not a short-term thing.

"We need to focus on our crime and opioid issues. We need to devote more resources whether it be to drug prevention programs, mental programs, bolstering the Clinton County sheriff and local law enforcement in any way, shape or form, going after more federal and state funding.

"We need to look at our budget. We need to look at consolidations without losing services or people and at the same time we need to trim fat. We've got a $5 million U-Haul dealership over at the airport which we shouldn't have, and I know that rubs people the wrong way, but it's true. We have a bus terminal sitting there with a U-Haul dealership in it. We need to capitalize on our resources, both natural as well as economic."

Why should the residents of Area 6 elect you and not the incumbent?

"I'm not a politician. I've never been in politics. I've been in government, but the biggest thing I can bring is my years of business ... as well as understanding (of) ... the government sector. With being a 911 dispatcher, I hear the needs of the people ... through my headset and we need to start addressing more of these problems. We can't be complacent — complacency is the killer of progress, so we need to find new ways, we need to reinvent ourselves.

"It's all about the future, right? We can't afford to lose any more people due to skyrocketing taxes — that's another thing that's on my agenda is addressing the property tax issue. If people have to choose between fuel, food or property taxes, we have a serious problem. And the biggest thing with that is looking at transparency and government waste.

"I have a lot of bold initiatives and a lot of things I want to pursue for the people because ... the biggest thing is making government work for people. We can look at all these programs that are currently ongoing, we can look at future programs and plans, but we really need to take stock of where we're spending our tax dollars, as well as our federal and state programs and tax dollars."

Name: Patty Waldron

Age: 57

Party line(s): Democratic, Working Families

Occupation: Koffee Kat owner, 25 years; Clinton Correctional Facility dental assistant, 10 years

Education: Bachelor's degree in humanities, Clinton Community College and Empire State College

Family: Husband, Benjamin Burdo; two adult sons

Previous government experience: Clinton County Area 6 legislator, incumbent, almost eight years; chairs Clinton County Legislature Economic Development and County Operations Committee; county legislature minority leader; member of Clinton County Legislature Children and Family Services, Finance, Health, Personnel and Public Safety committees; liaison to Intercounty Legislative Committee of the Adirondacks; former county legislature majority leader; former chair of the Clinton County Legislature Health and Children and Family Services committees; former liaison to Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board

Civic organizations: Former member of the Behavioral Health Services North Board of Directors

What do you think are the most pressing issues for Area 6 and Clinton County and how would you address them?

"So broadband was one of the most critical issues that we've had in Area 6. Much of that has been addressed. There's still 4,000 residents within Clinton County that still do not have broadband and there's a lot of side roads that are still yet to be up and running.

"I think the opioid issue in the county as a whole is still a large problem. Bridges, roads and infrastructure of course — there's always issues with roads and bridges. I address those as they come across as a needed item. Honestly there's a lot of bridges and roads issues that we get.

"As far as economic development in Clinton County, I think we're in a position to really shine as a county. I think the future is looking very bright for job creation and companies."

Why should the residents of Area 6 re-elect you?

"I think I have a proven track record and have been able to address all of the concerns in the county from the granular to the larger and I would like to finish what I set out to do. I think I've had a great eight years in accomplishing projects for Area 6 and putting them on the map, if you will, of Clinton County. There's still some work to be done and now I have the experience and the credibility to continue this forward movement. I'm also able to work both sides of the parties, which is also instrumental in getting things done for our community."

Email Cara Chapman:

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

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