Legislators Divulge Election Intentions

MAYVILLE – In less than four months, residents in Chautauqua County will head to the polls to lock in legislative candidates for November’s general election.

The reduction of the legislature from 25 districts to 19 has resulted in several contested races. Two future districts have no current sitting legislators at all.

At least one lawmaker, Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, has announced intentions to run for Chautauqua County Executive. Current County Executive Greg Edwards surprised many by announcing he would not seek a third term in office.

Then there’s Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, who announced he would be running for county clerk. Sandy Sopak said last week she would not be seeking a sixth term in the clerk’s office.

“I have vast experience in managing a staff, working within a budget and delivering service to the public,” Barmore said of his business experience.

Also in the mix for a possible county clerk run is legislator Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown. Cornell said she has not decided which elected office she will seek.

All current legislators were asked of their intentions for the upcoming election cycle, which begins with primary elections Sept. 10.

“I enjoy my job as a county legislator, and yes I am planning on running again,” said George Borrello, R-Irving.

Based on redistricting, Borrello would have faced legislator Rod Rogers, the legislature’s only Green Party candidate from Forestville. However, Rogers said he is not seeking another term and declined comment at this time.

David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, said, “I have enjoyed serving the people in my current district and would very much like to represent the people in my new district.”

Himelein will face a primary election against legislator Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, as the new district includes the towns of Mina, Sherman, Chautauqua and the village of Mayville. Croscut said he has enjoyed his 18 years as a legislator and will seek another term.

Also seeking re-election are: Legislature Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; John Runkle, R-Stockton; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; and Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott.

In one of two districts that pit a Democrat against a Republican, DeJoe will face Runkle in the general election. “I hope to keep serving,” said DeJoe, who is looking for a fourth term in the legislature.

“My main goal is to keep the county owning the County Home. The second is to attract manufacturing jobs to the area.”

Runkle said he would like to explore further cost-cutting measures for the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility.

However, not all legislators will be seeking re-election. Tim Hoyer, D-Jamestown, would have faced Robert Whitney and Vickeye James, both Democrats, in September’s primary election.

Hoyer said he was disappointed districts drawn by the Chautauqua County League of Women Voters were “ignored” during two years worth of redistricting.

“Because of the good work of Mr. Whitney, and I am in his district, I will not seek re-election,” Hoyer said. “This does not mean I do not want to serve. I do want to serve, but not in the sense of wanting to be a politician, but in the sense I want to have a vote so I can vote for what is good for people, not good for corporations.”

Whitney confirmed he would be seeking a second term; James said she is undecided at this time.

Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg, also will not seek re-election, and has notified the county Board of Elections and town boards in Carroll and Kiantone. The new district has no candidates as a result.

Legislators who could not be reached for comment include: PJ Wendel, R-Lakewood; Bill Coughlin, D-Fredonia; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; Robert Duff, R-Sheridan; and John Hemmer, R-Westfield.

If seeking another term, Coughlin would face Scudder in a district that includes a portion of Fredonia and the town of Pomfret.