WEST CARTHAGE — Three relative newcomers to the political arena are challenging a veteran councilman, vying for two seats on the town of Champion board.
Thomas E. Stewart, 81, of Bridge Street; Diana L. Harris, 67, of Bach Road, Carthage; Jonathan J. Schell, 39, of Eddy Road, Carthage, and Matthew Gump, 36, of State Route 126, Carthage, are on the ballot. Councilman Stanley W. Buzzell, having lost the Republican primary, is not in the running.
Mr. Stewart, a Republican who has been on the town board since 1996, wants to continue the work of the town council. Accomplishments during his time on the board include the purchase of town of Champion Municipal Building in 1998; Great Bend water and sewer project in 1997; Champion Heights water project in 2000; Champion hamlet water project in 2000; Farney Pit Road water and sewer project in 2004; Sayre Road water and sewer project in 2006. He supports infrastructure improvements in the town, including the proposed sewer expansion to Champion Heights.
Mrs. Harris, a Democrat who has lived in the township for the past 38 years, is making her second attempt to win a seat on the town board. She has attended most monthly town board meetings for the past two years and has been vocal in support of reinstating the Champion Volunteer Fire Company.
“It’s time for change, we should have term limits and open floor discussion after new business,” she said. “Residents of the town not being heard. Zoning law changes need to be made and fire protection issues need to be dealt with.”
Through her 40-year employment at Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, she acted as a liaison between employees and management working in part with budgets and retirement systems for union and non-union personnel.
Mr. Schell, a registered Republican with an endorsement from the state Conservative Party, is running on the Farm Families of Champion Party line.
Two years ago, he ran for the town supervisor position, losing to Bruce Ferguson, 406-317. He too has voiced his concerns about the termination of the contract with the Champion Volunteer Fire Company.
“I am running for town council to increase the transparency of financial and management decisions and make town government more responsive to the needs of Champion residents,” said Mr. Schell. “In addition, my priority as councilman will be to increase economic development initiatives and other recreational opportunities to improve the quality of life of Champion residents through grant writing as well as keeping residents informed of comings and goings of town government with social media and office hours for town board members to hear directly from residents.”
Mr. Gump, a Republican, retired from the Army and settled in the area.
“I want to make the government work for the people it’s supposed to serve,” he said. “My experience in casework services will allow me to listen, investigate, and help the government better serve the town of Champion, with a fresh perspective.”
The Stewart File
Education: Carthage Central from 1944 to 1956
Occupation: Retired, welder at Fort Drum, eight years; worked as hot stick lineman for Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. from 1965 to 1994.
Family: Wife, Peggy J.; daughters, Lesley K. Kloster, Kelly Rohr and Krista Ennis; six grandsons, two granddaughters, three great grandchildren
Political experience: West Carthage Village Board; Town of Champion councilman from 1996 to present, Deputy Supervisor
Organizations: Elks, American Legion and Bethany Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, West Carthage Fire Department 41 years active
The Harris File
Education: 1970 graduate of Clayton Central School
Organizations: Relay for Life Carthage Crushers
Family: Married with two children, three grandsons, one great grandson
The Schell File
Education: SUNY Cobleskill, bachelor of technology in Agriculture Engineering, 1997-2000; Cornell University, Masters of Arts in Teaching, 2001-2003
Occupation: Associate Director with Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust in Watertown since June 2018; agriculture mechanics and welding instructor at the Howard G. Sackett Technical Center — Jefferson-Lewis-Herkimer-Hamilton-Oneida BOCES, Watertown, 2016-2018; senior-level agriculture educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension, 2003-2016
Family: Wife, Kylie Schell; three children, Ivan, 9, twins Finley and Eve, 4
Political experience: Sen. Patty Ritchie Agriculture Committee Advisory Board member 2014-2018; Schoharie County Animal Emergency Response Committee chairperson 2005-2008, Black River St. Lawrence Research and Development Council Agriculture Committee chairperson 2010-2014
Organizations: National Farmer Veterans Coalition and NYS GIS Association
The Gump File
Education: Enrolled in masters of business administration, strategic human resource management, Grand Canyon University, expected graduation in June; Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies, Southwestern College, Kan., 2012; Associates of Science in Criminal Justice, Troy University, Ala., 2005
Political experience: River Area Council of Government Zoning Board of Appeals member for West Carthage, April 2015-Oct. 2018
Occupation: New York State Division of Veteran Services, Veterans’ Benefits Advisor, 2018–present; New York Army National Guard, Military Police, 2014-present; Jefferson County Child Protective Services, caseworker, 2016-2018; City of Watertown Water Treatment Plant operator, 2014-2016; U.S. Army, Military Police Platoon Sergeant, 2001-2014
Family: Married with four children
Political experience: River Area Council of Government Zoning Board of Appeals member for West Carthage, 2015-2018
Organizations: Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, National Rifle Association, Carthage Elks Club, Jefferson County Special Tactics and Response Team, West Carthage Fire Department