Meet the District 7 candidates for the Jefferson County legislature

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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TOWN OF CHAMPION, New York (WWNY) - In two weeks, a handful of longtime Republican lawmakers in Jefferson County will be challenged at the ballot box.

That race pits incumbent John Peck against the challenger, current town of Champion Councilmember Matt Gump.

Many of Peck’s colleagues know him as the owner of Peck Homestead Farm in the town of Champion. Others look to him as their community representative.

“I’ve served here in the township of Champion for going on almost 20 years in total. Ten years on the town board, and ten years on the county board of legislators now,” Peck said.

Since 2012, he has represented District 7 on the Jefferson County legislature, which covers the town of Champion and part of Fort Drum. Peck believes his decade-long tenure is due in large part to his strong stance of working with others and listening to his constituents.

“I don’t serve this position to tear apart the good work of others,” Peck said. “I want to find where there are ways to find improvements, ways to find more efficiencies and ways to do things better.”

Peck said as we begin to exit the pandemic, he wants to help small businesses get back on track, and re-energize the local economy. But, he has a challenge.

On the Republican and Conservative tickets, he is being opposed by Matt Gump, an army veteran and current Veterans’ Benefits Advisor for New York state, who also serves on the town of Champion board.

Gump decided to run against Peck because he feels he can do a better job at fighting for the people.

“Everybody is trying to be a team player, and a lot of time it is about the team, because it’s the county. But at the same time you also have to represent the constituents, and right now the representation is not there,” Gump said.

Gump said if elected, one of his main priorities would be to bring more business to the district. He said it would help drive down property taxes and build up more sales tax revenue.

“Unfortunately the other industries we have are falling to the way side, and if we don’t re-develop those we are going to keep facing the problem where property taxes are going to keep going up and up so that we can pay for things,” Gump said.

Both candidates, however, could get past the primary on June 22. Since they are both running on the Republican and Conservative party lines, there’s a chance it could be split, with one winning each party.

A candidate could also win both lines, which would seal a victory in November, since no one is running on the Democratic ticket.

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