Snide running as write-in for Jefferson County District 1

Sara Snide has been a regular feature at Clayton town and village meetings. Provided photo

CLAYTON — Anyone driving around the town or village may have noticed a scattering of political signs for Sara Snide, a candidate for Jefferson County’s Legislative District 1.

But voters in that district, which covers the towns of Cape Vincent and Clayton, won’t see Mrs. Snide’s name on their ballot this election season. She’s running an independent, write-in campaign.

When the elections process first started in May, Mrs. Snide attempted to secure a ballot line under the Veterans for Change party. She submitted a petition with 94 signatures on it, from residents across the legislative district. But, there were a number of problems with her petitions and Clayton resident Michael L. Ingerson objected to the Jefferson County Board of Elections.

In a May ruling, the county Board of Elections invalidated all but 40 of Mrs. Snide’s signatures, bringing her below the 76 signatures required.

The problems were numerous: Mrs. Snide had signatures on the back of a page where no visible information was available; had signatures from petitioners who had already signed a petition for her competitor, incumbent legislator Robert W. Cantwell III; and had signatures from people who were not registered to vote in Legislative District 1.

In an interview Monday, Mrs. Snide said she knew she had some invalid signatures on her petitions, but had notated them and thought she had more than enough to make up for the deficient signatures.

“I went to every single house and even if they couldn’t sign, if they weren’t allowed to sign, say they weren’t registered voters, I let them because I valued their opinion and valued their signature on that document,” she said. “I kept accountability for which ones weren’t good, and got a ton more than I needed.”

Despite that initial setback, Mrs. Snide said she has kept working full-speed on reaching out to voters and campaigning. She said running a write-in campaign has been a slight challenge, but she remains confident in her ability to win the race.

“I’m optimistic, more so because I’ve gone out and talked to every person in the district,” she said. “I’ve gone out and even if they weren’t home, I knocked on their door. I’ve done the legwork.”

She said she got into this race because she thinks the current elected officials for her town of Clayton aren’t doing their jobs correctly. She’s been a regular feature at Clayton town and village meetings, and said she feels as if her local elected officials have lost their passion.

“I think a lot of times, people get complacent, they forget what they stand for and they let power go to their head,” she said.

During village board meetings, Mrs. Snide has specifically advocated for some of the businesses along James Street, namely the Lyric Coffee House, in the village of Clayton. Mrs. Snide and Lyric owner Kathy I. Danielson have pushed hard against the village for the installation of new power poles outside their businesses, where they say poles were never meant to go.

She’s also spoken out against the village’s decision to bar flags that don’t represent nations from their flagpoles. She says the Gay Pride flag, POW-MIA flag and Black Lives Matter flag should be eligible to fly on village flagpoles.

Mrs. Snide said she decided to run for office after seeing the “circus” of national and local politics. At first, she said she wasn’t sure which position would be the best fit, but ultimately decided on the county Legislature.

“I picked this legislative position because I feel like you have reach in this position to local and state government,” she said. “I feel like you have a reach to both, and I feel like I can make a difference here.”

Mrs. Snide said her first initiative would be to encourage more work programs at the county jail and at the state-run prison in Cape Vincent. She said she’s already reached out to the prison’s leadership and has made headway on establishing a relationship there.

“Being a prior correctional officer, I understand how work can actually be beneficial for rehabilitation,” she said. “Inmates are not all bad people, they’re just people who made poor decisions and now they’re being held accountable.”

Mrs. Snide said she would also work to pass a bill in the county Legislature protecting District 1 residents from what she called “predatory” solar and wind power companies. She said she’s personally had solar and wind farm developers intrude on her property and take photos of her land and home.

She said there are also problems with other utilities and infrastructure development, like the power pole problem at the Lyric Coffee House, and she would like to see some way for residents to have more of a voice in such projects, and have assured payments for renewable energy developments on their property.

“That legislative bill would refine protections, make sure that if deals are struck with infrastructure companies or wind turbine companies, make sure the people who live here are going to continuously get paid fairly,” she said.

Mrs. Snide said her independence should be an asset, because it makes her approachable from both sides of the political spectrum. She said she feels she is representative of a lot of Jefferson County residents, and wants to be an active participant, present in her constituency.

“I’m an everyday citizen,” she said. “I own multiple businesses, I’m 27, a young mom, a married woman, I’m a disabled Army veteran from Fort Drum.”

She promised to attend every town and village meeting in her district, to be available to her constituents, and specifically criticized Mr. Cantwell for his lack of attendance.

“I’ve been there, and I’ve never seen him,” she said.

Mr. Cantwell responded to that claim, saying none of his fellow county legislators regularly attend town or village meetings in their districts either.

“Legislators only go to town or village meetings when asked,” he said. “I’ve found people focus on the legislators and not on the business of that meeting when we attend.”

He said he goes to between two and four village and town meetings per year, when there’s a specific issue to be discussed involving the county. Additionally, he said he makes himself available to every board member and elected official in his constituency, and said he’s proud of the job he’s done and connections he’s made.

Mr. Cantwell will appear on the ballot for District 1 voters, but voters who wish to cast their ballot for Mrs. Snide will have to write in her name on their ballot. Early voting begins at the Watertown offices of the county Board of Elections on Saturday, and the regular polling sites will open around the county on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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