Democrats, Cornell Reap What They Sow

The Chautauqua County Legislature’s recent refusal to accept the nomination of Jamestown Democrats to place Chuck Cornell on the legislature is just the latest reminder that politics, at all levels, is usually messy business.

Nominations to fill vacant posts are typically quickly approved based on the advice of the local political committee. It was a shock to the system that Cornell wasn’t confirmed to fill Fred Larson’s position as the District 12 representative to the legislature. Of course, local committee members should have taken into account that their chosen nominee came with some baggage.

In the wake of the 2013 elections that placed 13 Republicans on the Chautauqua County Legislature, Cornell wrote a letter to the Dunkirk OBSERVER singling out Democrats Shaun Heenan and Keith Ahlstrom for their vote on the county’s redistricting plan. In the letter, Cornell said it should be no surprise Republicans claimed 13 of the 19 legislature seats because Heenan and Ahlstrom voted in favor of a Republican-sponsored redistricting plan – a decision Cornell said had come back to hurt the Democrats.

Is it really surprising, then, that Heenan and Ahlstrom voted against seating Cornell on the legislature given Cornell’s public repudiation of his fellow Democrats? Are we to believe Cornell wouldn’t have acted similarly were the circumstances reversed? If Cornell was within his right to write a letter criticizing two Democratic Party legislators, those legislators were also well within their right to vote against Cornell’s placement on the legislature. There should be no crying for Chuck Cornell in this instance. He reaped what he sowed.

Cry for the residents of Jamestown’s north side who have no legislator representing them.

Greg Rabb, a Democrat who served on the district nominating committee and Jamestown City Council president, is right when he voiced his concerns over the district’s legislature seat going unfilled. Democrats shouldn’t wait for the November election to fill the District 12 seat. Surely there must be another civic-minded Democrat with fresh ideas on how the legislature can help all north side residents.

City Democrats should move this search along quickly.