Republican Supermajority In New Legislature

Republicans will hold a supermajority of the Chautauqua County Legislature as of Jan. 1, while four Democrat incumbents are on their way out following Tuesday’s elections.

In the new legislature, 13 of 19 legislators will be Republican.

“We gained a couple of seats which is very important,” said Allan Hendrickson, chairman of the Chautauqua County Republican Committee. “We’ll be able to do things we weren’t able to do before.”

“We do what we can for the people we have here,” Hendrickson added.

Furthermore, the outcome of the election could significantly affect the future of the Chautauqua County Home and the possibility of it being sold to a private buyer.

“In my opinion, the election was a referendum on the County Home,” Assemblyman Andy Goodell said. He explained that with the privitization of the skilled nursing facility, money could be used to keep future taxes down.

“The public overwhelmingly said they wanted a smaller government, lower taxes and more jobs,” Goodell said.

With the Republican supermajority of the new legislature, the home is more likely to be sold.

Thirteen votes will now be needed to sell real property owned by the county.

Democrats Robert Whitney, Thomas DeJoe, William Coughlin and Thomas Erlandson lost in Tuesday’s elections.

Bob Scudder (R, C-Fredonia) beat Coughlin (D, WF, I-Fredonia) in District 3, 966-709.

“I am humbly excited,” Scudder said Tuesday night. “I am thrilled to serve. It’s an honor to be re-elected. I am looking forward to the downsized legislature and I want to thank all the voters that supported me.”

“The voters have spoken,” Coughlin said, “I find it all amusing because I was the one leading the fight to save the County Home and cut the budget as much as possible. Scudder is a good legislator, but the people have made their choice, so they can live with it.”

Terry Niebel (R, C, I-Dunkirk) beat Susan Baldwin (D-South Dayton) and Amy Farnham in District 5, earning 925, or 60 percent, of the votes, compared with Baldwin’s 529 and Farnham’s 98.

“I am happy to be unofficially elected,” Niebel said, thanking his wife, friends and family for their support.

Whitney (D, WF, I-Jamestown) lost to David Wilfong (R, C-Jamestown) 533-444 in the District 11 race.

Frederick Larson (D, I-Jamestown) won the District 12 race, defeating William Prieto (R, C-Jamestown) 647-450.

Ronald Lemon (R, C-Frewsburg) defeated Erlandson (D, I-Frewsburg) 1,077-641.

P.J. Wendel (R, C-Lakewood) won the District 10 seat 996-663 over Sharon Lisciandro (D, I-Lakewood).

David Himelein (R-Findley Lake) won re-election to the legislature, defeating challenger Edward Carutis (D, WF-Sherman) 882-561. He will represent the new District 18 in the legislature.

Lisa Vanstrom (R-Ellicott) defeated Sam Ognibene, 1,020-485, though Ognibene suspended his candidacy in mid-October.

In District 7, John Runkle (R, C, I-Stockton) defeated DeJoe 850-624.

In District 4, Janet Keefe (D, WF, I-Fredonia) won, defeating Michael Sullivan (R, C-Fredonia) by a margin of 450-338.

Legislators running unopposed were Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; George Borrello, R-Silver Creek; Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point; Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Mark Tarbrake, R-Lakewood; Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Paula DeJoy, D, I-Jamestown, and John Hemmer, R-Westfield.