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Bill Owens

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 23rd district
Assumed office 
November 6, 2009
Preceded by John M. McHugh

Born January 20, 1949 (1949-01-20) (age 60)
Brooklyn, New York
Political party Independent (1971-2009)
Democratic (2009-present)
Spouse(s) Jane Owens
Children Three
Residence Plattsburgh, New York
Alma mater Fordham University School of Law (J.D.)
Manhattan College (B.B.A.)
Profession Attorney, Businessperson
Religion Roman Catholic

William Lewis "Bill" Owens (born January 20, 1949) is the Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from New York's 23rd congressional district. The district, the state's largest and most rural district, includes most of the North Country, as well as the northern suburbs of Syracuse and Utica.

He defeated Conservative Party of New York candidate Doug Hoffman after the Republican candidate dropped out of the special election held on November 3, 2009. He is the first Democrat to represent most of the territory of the district since the mid-19th century.[1]


Early life, education and military service

Born in Brooklyn to Lewis Owens and Alice Stanton Owens,[2] Owens was raised in Mineola, New York. After graduating from Chaminade High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base. He returned to the North Country and has lived there for over 30 years after serving as a United States Air Force captain.

Owens is a 1971 summa cum laude graduate of Manhattan College with a degree in business administration and a 1974 top-half graduate of Fordham University School of Law.


Owens is a managing partner at Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane & Trombley, where he specializes in business law, international law, and estate and tax law.[3] He is also an adjunct professor in business law at State University of New York at Plattsburgh. In 2004, he was appointed by Governor George Pataki to the College Council at that university.[4] He served as the host for Business Affaires[1] [5] on WCFE-TV, a PBS television station in Plattsburgh. According to financial disclosure forms filed when he ran for Congress, Owens made $751,000 in 2008, mostly from his law practice.[6]

When the Plattsburgh Air Force Base closed in 1995, Owens helped create and worked for the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (formerly the Plattsburgh Inter-municipal Development Council), which recruited private companies to reuse the space. The base is now home to companies such as Bombardier Inc., a passenger railway car maker. Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation attests that more than 2000 jobs were created at the site since the military left.[7]


Owens is a Roman Catholic. He is married, with two daughters, Tara and Jenna, and one son, Brendan. His wife Jane was an early childhood education teacher and is currently the Director of Education and Outreach for Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh.[8]

2009 special election

On August 10, 2009, the Democratic Party of New York's 23rd congressional district chose Owens to run in a special election to fill the House seat vacated by the incumbent Republican John McHugh, who had resigned to take a post as the Secretary of the Army.[9] Because he was a registered independent at the time, Owens had to obtain the signatures of all 11 Democratic county chairs in the district to allow him to run as a Democrat.[10]

Originally, Owens faced Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava and Lake Placid CPA Doug Hoffman. Hoffman ran as a third-party candidate for the Conservative Party of New York after losing the Republican nomination to Scozzafava. Hoffman became Owens's sole opponent when Scozzafava dropped out of the race on October 31. The Watertown Daily Times, who had originally endorsed Scozzafava, switched its endorsement to Owens on November 1. [11] Later on November 1, Scozzafava endorsed Owens.

According to unofficial returns, Owens won 49 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Hoffman and 6 percent for Scozzafava. He was sworn in on November 6, 2009.

On the Glenn Beck show on November 17, Hoffman appeared to "unconcede" the race after slightly reducing Owens' margin of victory when the partial counting of district wide absentee ballots had been concluded in three counties that Hoffman had originally won.[12]

Political positions

During his campaign, Owens said he would focus on creating jobs throughout his district, attracting foreign manufacturers, taking care of veterans, and ensuring that Fort Drum is preserved.[10][13]

Gay rights

He supports civil unions and full civil rights for gays, but opposes same-sex marriage.[10]


He supports the Employee Free Choice Act.[14]

Health Care

Owens voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act on November 7, 2009.[15]

Congressional committee assignments

Source: H.Res. 921

2010 Election

Owens will be up for election to a full term in November 2010. Doug Hoffman announced shortly after the special election that he will seek a rematch against Owens.


  1. ^ Madsen, Nancy (2009-11-04). "Owens takes election". Watertown Daily Times. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  2. ^ "Alice S. Owens". Press-Republican. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  3. ^ "William L. Owens, Esq.". Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  4. ^ "William Owens Appointed to College Council". State University of New York at Plattsburgh. 2004-10-22. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  5. ^
  6. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (2009-10-06). "Owens' Financial Disclosure". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Jane Owens: Chair, Membership Committee". National Association for Media Literacy Education. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  9. ^ Weiner, Mark (2009-08-10). "Democrats nominate Bill Owens to run for Rep. John McHugh's seat in Congress". The Post-Standard. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  10. ^ a b c Vielkind, Jimmy (2009-08-11). "Meet Bill Owens, a DCCC-Approved Non-Democrat for the House". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  11. ^ "A changed race: Owens is best-equipped to represent NNY". Watertown Daily Times. 2009-11-01. Retrieved 2009-11-03.  
  12. ^ .  
  13. ^ "Local Lawyer Nominated For U.S. House". WPTZ. 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  
  14. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy (2009-08-14). "Why Labor Might Leave the Democrat to His Own Devices in NY-23". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2009-11-05.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John M. McHugh
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 23rd congressional district

2009 – present

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