No Place For Politics

The candidates running for the position of county clerk agree politics have no place in the office.

Democratic candidate Lori Cornell and Republican candidate Larry Barmore have both emphasized their view that political party has little to do with the county clerk position.

“It’s not about Democratic or Republican leadership, it’s about strong administrative leadership, and who has the qualifications and experience to deliver the optimal service at the lowest possible cost,” Cornell said.

Barmore recently went on record with the same sentiment.

“I don’t believe politics have any place in the County Clerk’s Office,” he said. “The work is far too important to every resident of Chautauqua County.”

Despite leaving politics out of the office, both candidates have different ideas of what is important for the County Clerk’s Office.

Cornell feels strongly about holding a Renew Local Campaign. During the Administrative Services Committee budget hearings, she formally offered a renew local marketing proposal for the fourth time in four years. Cornell said she initially unveiled the proposal in 2005, when she ran against Sandy Sopak for the county clerk position.

“When county residents renew locally, the money stays in Chautauqua County and offsets property taxes instead of going to Albany,” Cornell said. “History has demonstrated that the money used for marketing campaigns for renewing locally has returned its investment five-fold to county taxpayers. This is a perfect example of what I have been stressing during this campaign – “Renew Local’ marketing campaign works for the taxpayers and is a common-sense, non-partisan proposal.”

Barmore, on the other hand, has put out several proposals of his own.

The New York state Department of Motor Vehicles Office has now added the option for honorably discharged military veterans to add the distinction to their driver’s license. There is no additional cost to adding the distinction during the renewal period, however anyone wanting to add it prior to the expiration of their license would be charged an amendment fee of $12.50.

Barmore said he supports county clerks across the state in their effort to get the fee waived. Additionally, he is a supporter of the Return the Favor Card, and is one of the participating businesses offering a discount to cardholders.

“Just as there is no fee to file military discharges or receive the Return the Favor card at the County Clerk’s Office, I feel there should be no charge to add that distinction to the license at any time,” Barmore said.

Barmore is also calling on residents throughout the county to remove improperly placed Slow Moving Vehicle emblems. The law requires all vehicles with a speed of less than 25 mph that are using public highways to display the emblem in the center of the rear of the vehicle, at a height of between two and six feet from the ground. However, Barmore said he was made aware of how many people are using the emblems as driveway and mailbox markers, which is contributing to close calls on the roadways.

At Barmore’s request, Sheriff Joe Gerace has discussed the matter with State Police and the Traffic Safety Board. It is the hope of all that through education, those displaying the emblems improperly will removed them voluntarily to help make Chautauqua County safe for farmers and everyone on the roads.

Finally, Barmore wants residents to be aware of the role the County Clerk’s Office plays in historical and genealogical research.

“The County Clerk’s Office is the keeper of the records,” he said. “We trust that our most valuable, historical documents are safe there, so we don’t even think about just how important that job is. When Sandy Sopak took office, records were stuffed in cardboard boxes in the courthouse dome, and anywhere they would fit. She began the mission nearly 20 years ago to preserve those records and make the accessible to the public. As a historian myself, I fully understand the value of these records, and will continue that preservation effort.”

Barmore also emphasized that genealogical research is a large tourism segment.

“People travel to pour through their family history to put the pieces of their ancestry together,” Barmore said. “The County Clerk’s Office is responsible for making sure those documents are preserved and accessible.”