MADRID — A teaching assistant who wants to improve St. Lawrence County for future generations is trying to unseat the chairman of the St. Lawrence County Legislature in the Nov. 6 race for the District 8 seat.
Kaitlin E. Tyndall, 28, is running on the Democratic and Independent lines against Kevin D. Acres, a self-employed dairy farmer who is chairman of the 15-member board. Mr. Acres, 60, is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independent lines.
The district includes all of the town of Madrid and parts of the towns of Potsdam and Canton.
Miss Tyndall said when she returned home after being away at college she found a worsening drug addiction problem, lack of jobs and farms going out of business.
“All the problems that existed had only become worse,” she said. “More people were unemployed. More people had developed addictions. More businesses had closed, although there are some new great additions in my hometown of Madrid. More of the people my age and younger had moved away, a lot more.”
She also claimed that the county has lost millions of dollars in revenue through a billing problem in its Community Services Department which provides mental health and substance abuse services.
“Millions of dollars have been lost over the past four years because county leadership was complacent toward billing that was known to be incomplete, incorrect, untimely or simply not done at all,” Miss Tyndall said.
Mr. Acres acknowledged that billing problems have existed in the Community Services Department, but said the board has taken action to rectify the situation, including hiring an outside agency to handle billing, filling the department director position that was vacant for more than a year and hiring more staff.
“Her comments are an exaggeration. We have not lost millions,” Mr. Acres said. “There certainly have been problems over the past four years, but it hasn’t anything to do with county leadership. As the board was made aware of problems we took action and things are improving.”
Mr. Acres said his experience serving on civic boards, including 22 years on the Madrid-Waddington Central School Board, and the past eight years on the county Legislature make him more qualified than Miss Tyndall for the Legislature seat. He questioned why he has not seen Miss Tyndall attend any county or town meetings.
“I’ve been involved with contracts, negotiations and arbitrations,” he said. “I run my own business and I pay property taxes.”
Miss Tyndall said she’s a hard worker with an open mind.
“I want people in my district to vote for me because of who I am and where I believe county government should focus,” she said.
Since the Republican majority took control of the Legislature four years ago from Democrats, Mr. Acres said the county’s fiscal situation has greatly improved and he wants that momentum to continue.
He identified three priority areas for county government: improving the county’s roads and bridges, providing more access to treatment services for those suffering from opioid addictions and keeping property taxes from increasing. In his district, he’s concerned about dairy farms going out of business because of low milk prices.
Both candidates said they support the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment which guarantees the right to bear arms. Neither candidate is interested in privatizing any county services.
Miss Tyndall said steps need to be taken to make sure that violent offenders and mentally ill don’t have the same access to guns as others and that gun safety education should also be a priority.
THE ACRES FILE
Name: Kevin D. Acres
Occupation: Self-employed dairy farmer
Family: Wife, Phyllis; three sons, Brandon, Sean and Gavin
Education: Bachelor of science, SUNY Brockport
Civic work, elected offices: Madrid-Waddington Central, school board member for 22 years; six years on St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES board; eight years county legislator; St. Lawrence County Farm Bureau, member
THE TYNDALL FILE
Name: Kaitlin E. Tyndall
Occupation: Teaching Assistant, Potsdam Elementary school through St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services
Family: Fiance, Brandon French and two step daughters, Emma, 10, Jocelynn,7.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, SUNY Plattsburgh; graduate, Madrid-Waddington Central School
Civic work, elected offices: None\