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John D. Peck, dairy farmer, running for Jefferson County Legislature

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CARTHAGE — John D. Peck knows the challenges of operating a 90-head dairy operation: Rising corn prices because of high demand for ethanol fuel is just the latest challenge to the Peck way of making a living since the early 1800s.

The prospects were so bleak, he says just after hosing a brown and lighter-brown mixture of mud and crud from his boots in a barn occupied by two dozen cats, that he considered giving up the way of life altogether.

But here he is, 28 years old with a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Potsdam, running the day-to-day operations of the farm on County Route 47. He says he’s running for Jefferson County Legislature in District 7 so that his son, 2-year-old John L., can one day be the ninth generation of Pecks to farm.

“At the time, I felt that even if I couldn’t farm it, if I could get involved and find a way to change things so that others could, that’s a worthwhile achievement and something to pursue,” said Mr. Peck, a Republican who has been on the Champion Town Council for 10 years.

On Tuesday, Mr. Peck will face Robert J. Peluso in a Republican primary for the seat being vacated by Legislator Kent D. Burto. The winner of the primary won’t face a general-election challenge, so the Republican race is for all the marbles.

Mr. Peck, who said he entered politics with a still-held hope that he’ll be president one day, is actively involved in Republican politics in Jefferson County. He believes that private enterprise should be unfettered by government. He’s also active in the local Christian community.

For now, though, all politics is local. For example, Jefferson County shouldn’t spend $18 million on a new jail, he said. Europeans “depend on government work instead of private-sector work, and that’s a path that this country shouldn’t follow,” said Mr. Peck, who wrote his senior thesis on the European Union.

He’s involved in the North Country Fellowship Church, just up the road.

Church pastor Len Flack, a friend and next-door neighbor, said Mr. Peck has managed to learn a variety of issues because of, not in spite of, his life on the farm.

“He’s got a lot of time, whether he’s milking cows or riding the tractor, to chew things over,” the Rev. Mr. Flack said.

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