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Legion commander plans run for Lewis County legislator

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MARTINSBURG — The commander of the Lowville American Legion now is hoping to march onto the Lewis County Legislature.

“Through my various volunteer and formal positions within the county, I have always been a leader,” said Republican C. Lee Hinkleman, who plans to seek the District 7 seat. “I just feel it is time to focus on my own backyard and give back to my neighbors. They have always been there for my family and I. It is simply my turn.”

Fellow Republican Gregory M. Kulzer said he also is planning to run for the seat, setting up a likely GOP primary in September. Incumbent Legislator William J. Burke, R-West Lowville, has decided not to seek a new two-year term representing the district, which includes the western part of the town of Lowville, along with all of Martinsburg and Turin.

“Bill Burke is a good man, an honest man,” Mr. Hinkleman said. “It will be tough to fill his shoes.”

The town of Martinsburg resident said that, if elected, he would plan to hold monthly sessions to meet with his constituents. “Because I’m representing them, not myself,” he said.

Mr. Hinkleman said recreational trails are important, so long as landowners’ rights are upheld.

“I know if it wasn’t for the landowners, we wouldn’t have a trail system,” he said. “It is critical that we respect their rights and concerns.”

Mr. Hinkleman served for 24 years in the U.S. Army, then later worked briefly in the Oneida County executive’s office.

He and his wife, Cathy, bought a seasonal camp in the area in 2001 and moved to the property on a permanent basis in 2006 after he took a job as communications manager at the Maple Ridge Wind Farm project, which was under development at the time.

Mr. Hinkleman, who now is retired, then worked as director of public relations at Otis Technology Inc. in Lyons Falls and director of sales at Defenshield, a defense contractor in Syracuse.

Along with leading the local Legion post, he is a member of the Lewis County Veterans of Foreign Wars post and Lewis County Marine Corps League, as well as the Lowville Elks Lodge.

Mr. Hinkleman also serves on the board of directors of the Association of the U.S. Army at Fort Drum and is a past president of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce.

“My heart has always been in my community,” he said.

The Hinklemans have three children and seven grandchildren.

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