Himelein: Legislature Has Much To Accomplish

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 16th in a series of articles highlighting major issues facing each of the 19 Chautauqua County districts and the legislators presiding over them.

Dave Himelein is no stranger to leadership positions, especially within the Chautauqua County Legislature.

On Wednesday, he was named the majority leader for 2014. He was the former assistant majority leader as well as chairman of the Public Facilities Committee and past vice chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He also formerly served on the Audit and Control Committee.

Himelein said the new legislature has much to accomplish.

Findley Lake and a portion of Chautauqua Lake are in District 18.

“We have to decide what to do about sewering,” Himelein said.

Around Chautauqua Lake, properties not connected to the current sewer system have aging septic tanks. Sewering the entire lake would help prevent phosphorus from entering the water.

Additionally, he said Findley Lake’s dam needs repaired. In 2013, a large sinkhole was found in the vicinity of the dam, but the problem has yet to be solved.

“There are priorities in each of the legislators’ districts,” Himelein said. “We’ve got several issues in the county.”

Besides issues with both lakes, the Chautauqua County Home and the SAFE Act are on the list of Himelein’s concerns.

Of the County Home, he said he will continue to vote in favor of its privatization.

“I think that if we do get another offer from a viable, perspective buyer that a resolution to sell it will be passed,” Himelein said, adding that he believes jobs will be saved if it is sold.

In other matters, he supports the repeal of the SAFE Act, which was signed into law in 2013 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The act imposed a variety of restrictions on gun owners, including a reduction of magazine capacity and registration of newly defined assault weapons.

“I don’t know, at the local level, if there is anything more we can do to get it repealed or modified,” he said. “If there is, I’m all for that. I think it’s a big intrusion on people’s freedoms.”

Regardless of these issues, Himelein pointed out that there are many positive things taking place in Chautauqua County.

“Our farmers, our agribusiness is doing very well here in the county, and our tourism is doing very well,” he said. “Tourism is very good. If there’s a way we can attract more tourists, I’m all for it.”

Himelein joined 12 other Republican legislators on Wednesday to form a new, downsized group of 19 with a Republican supermajority.

Of the supermajority, Himelein said it’s a great opportunity, but also a great responsibility.

“All eyes are going to be on us,” he said. “They’ll scrutinize us, but we’re going to try and do what’s right for the citizens of the county.”

He said Republican legislators will continue to work with those on the Democratic side of the isle.

“We can very much work together to accomplish many things in this county,” he concluded.