LOWVILLE — Tuesday’s primary will feature five races between candidates trying to land on the Republican Party line and one for the Conservative Party line on the November ballot for Lewis County offices.
Denise M. Yost, Lyons Falls, vs. Eric J. Virkler, Lowville
n Ms. Yost is currently a senior clerk in the County Treasurer’s office. In this post, she says she keeps track of cash accounts for the county and has become familiar with the taxing process and health insurance programs. In the past, she has administered over 200 contracts and budgets, hired and trained staff.
She holds two associate’s degrees from SUNY Canton, one in business administration and one in hotel technology.
“I know about budgeting and how it works,” Ms. Yost said. “I will make sure (the legislators) are fiscally responsible.”
As treasurer she hopes to help stabilize health insurance costs and work with town and village tax collectors to make paying easier.
n Mr. Virkler has been the executive director of the Industrial Development Agency in Lewis County for four years and the director of the county economic development department for 10 years.
His past experience includes being a public and business accountant, chief financial officer for Lewis County General Hospital for six years, village trustee for two years and administration and finance clerk for two years. He also worked in investment sales and insurance sales for two years.
Mr. Virkler said he has worked with auditors, attorneys, payroll reports, accounting systems, insurance plans, has prepared budgets for million dollar projects and has supplied information to the Board of Legislators for years.
Mr. Virkler has a bachelor of science and accounting from Syracuse University and lived in Syracuse for 10 years.
John A. Healt, West Leyden, vs. Jake Moser, Beaver Falls
n Mr. Healt has been working in sales for the past 10 years and is currently employed at Tolpa’s Auto Parts in Remsen. He is also a part-time assistant municipal advisor for the Tug Hill Commission Northern Oneida Council of Governments. He owned and operated Black River Beverage Company in Boonville for 18 years, served as a board member of the Boonville Housing Authority for 15 years and the Adirondack Central School District for three years. He was formerly the president of the Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce.
A Boonville native, Mr. Healt served as a trustee for that village for eight years. He has been living in Lewis County for 20 years.
Mr. Healt said he has experience with budgeting, management, policy, politics and leadership qualities that will serve the county and county clerk team well.
He said he believes fiscal responsibility and long-range planning are crucial to be effective. As clerk, Mr. Healt hopes to make the Department of Motor Vehicles experience more pleasant for customers and to optimize income for the department by promoting the services of the office.
n Mr. Moser is currently a foreman at Adirondack Valley Builders, where he has worked for 14 years, and is co-owner of a maple business with his brothers.
He serves on the board of directors for the International Maple Museum Centre and, for four years, has been the president of the Lewis County Maple Producers.
Mr. Moser graduated from the 2018 Leadership Academy and was chosen for the NNY Business Magazine 20 Under 40 issue in 2016, as up-and-coming business leader under 40 years old.
Born and raised in Beaver Falls, Mr. Moser attended North Country Community College and SUNY Potsdam.
He says he has a strong understanding of “teamwork fluidity,” budgeting and the core values of county residents as well as a strong work ethic.
Improvements he would like to make if he is elected clerk include using technology more often, for example, by making more forms accessible online, like those for pistol permits.
Ian W. Gilbert, Castorland, vs. Thomas J. Schantz, Castorland
n Mr. Gilbert is an attorney at Conboy, McKay, Bachman and Kendall LLC, and co-owner of the Tug Hill Artisan Coffee Roasters.
Originally from Adams, he is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston with a bachelor’s degree in history and government. He received his law degree from Penn State University in 2015.
Mr. Gilbert said he practices transactional law helping small businesses and, more recently, municipal law for places including Alexandria Bay, Sackets Harbor, Croghan and Pinckney. He also said he has worked on a number of Wind Farm projects including Galloo Island, Deer River and Mad River.
The most important focus for the county, Mr. Gilbert said, should be to improve the economy to reduce poverty and increase the standard of living by making policies that “allow people to pursue their own successes,” attracting new jobs into the community, improving the work force and inviting new developers into the area.
n Mr. Schantz, now retired, was a dairy farmer for 45 years. He also served as assessor for the town of New Bremen for 20 years and was the president of the Northern New York Farmer’s Market board. For the past 40 years, Mr. Schantz has been and continues to be the owner of various rental properties.
For 15 years, Mr. Schantz said he has been lobbying the county government to allow partial tax payments rather than only the full amount, which has recently come to fruition.
Because Mr. Schantz owns many properties in the county, he said he is aware of how important it is to keep taxes low. He said the best way to attract people into the county and to keep people here from leaving is to make sure there are jobs that give pay similar to that of other places.
Mr. Schantz said he believes he can help the county and that he has the time to do the job because he is retired.
Richard A. Chartrand, Lowville, vs. Eric J. Griffin, Lowville
n Mr. Chartrand, a registered Democrat and current legislator for the district, is in the process of changing parties and is seeking re-election as the Republican nominee. He has been a legislator since 2014.
Mr. Chartrand said that while he could not realistically promise tax cuts, he said he would continue to maintain taxes, provide essential services and ensure that the money is spent wisely for the county.
In his district, Mr. Chartrand said the legislator job often requires negotiating between municipalities and the manufacturers located in Lowville.
He also noted the importance of Lewis County General Hospital as the county’s largest employer and said he hoped to continue to work to maintain and improve the hospital as the county board representative.
Mr. Chartrand said he has been working to improve the SNIRT Run, recreation possibilities and help to create a biking and walking trail along the rails from Croghan to Lowville.
n Mr. Griffin is currently employed at Kraft Heinz and is active with the Sons of the American Legion Post 162. He also volunteers with the Lewis County Fair and the Cream Cheese Festival.
He said that he would like to find a way to lower taxes so fewer people lose their homes. He would also like to find new businesses to bring into the area.
Mr. Griffin said some wind turbines should be used to specifically power Lewis County instead of sending the power to New York City.
To combat the drug issue, Mr. Griffin said there should be higher fines imposed on those convicted of drug crimes to send a message.
Gregory Kulzer, West Lowville, vs. Joshua P. Leviker, Turin
n Mr. Kulzer has been legislator for six years. A graduate of SUNY Canton, Mr. Kulzer has been the local milk inspector for the state since he moved to the area in 1999. At the end of last year, he chose to retire from that job so that he could remain in his elected office as required by law.
Citing the drug crisis in the county as one of the main obstacles to a strong work force for existing manufacturers, Mr. Kulzer said he feels the county needs to find ways to solve that issue to move forward.
Mr. Kulzer believes that smaller businesses that complement existing industries will be the best route to a stronger economy and is very supportive of wind farms in the area.
He said it continues to be important to keep spending to a well thought-out minimum to keep taxes as low as possible.
n Mr. Leviker is an estimator and project manager for a paving company in Syracuse, where he started as an intern. He is also the village of Turin mayor, sits on the village planning boards and is vice president of the Turin Ridge Riders.
While working toward his associate degree in construction management at SUNY Delhi, Mr. Leviker said he was also a farm hand on the weekend, emphasizing his strong work ethic.
Mr. Leviker said he believes that there is growth potential in the recreation and tourism sectors, especially in the south of the county where there is no manufacturing.
Infrastructure is another area in which he would work for improvements if he became legislator, specifically relating to using new materials now available that, while costing more up front, will last three times as long as the current materials used in roads.