By JOE LoTEMPLIO
PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh attorney William Owens has joined the race to become the North Country's next congressman.
Owens, 60, is seeking to run for the 23rd District seat as a Democrat.
The longtime attorney has been with the law firm of Stafford, Owens, Curtin & Trombley PLLC, the firm of former State Sen. Ronald B. Stafford, an icon in the Republican Party.
"I've been an independent since I was 18," Owens said.
"People who think I was a Republican all these years don't know me well enough."
Owens has also served as a host on Mountain Lake Public Television news shows.
He said he wants to join Congress so he can fight for the people of the North Country.
"I think it is time that we get people in Congress who are going to look out for the people in their districts," he said.
"The deficit, jobs, health care, these are the issues that are on people's minds."
The seat in the 23rd District is expected to open when John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor) is confirmed as the new Secretary of the Army in August or early September.
McHugh has held the seat since 1993. No Democrat has held the seat since the Civil War era.
Republicans chose St. Lawrence County Assemblywoman Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava as their candidate Wednesday.
The 23rd District includes 11 counties stretching from Lake Ontario in the west to Lake Champlain in the east.
It is the largest district geographically east of the Mississippi River.
Owens said he will work hard to convince voters in the western portion of the district that he will be a good congressman for everyone.
"I'm going to get over there and meet the people and convey the issues," he said.
There are several others seeking the Democratic Party nod for the race, and party leaders are expected to pick a candidate by Aug. 10.
"I think I can bring something to the process and can do good things for our area," Owens said.
"That's the bottom line; helping our area."
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