Legislature Primary to be held in 3 districts

OBSERVER Mayville Bureau

Three districts in Chautauqua County have decisions to make when it comes to primaries for County Legislator.

Residents registered as Democrats in the new District 5 and registered as Republicans in the new districts 16 and 18 will be called upon to vote for who they believe is the best legislative candidate. The primary election will be held Sept. 10, from noon to 9 p.m. Only voters registering with the party having a primary election will be eligible to vote. Additionally, polling sites will only be open in jurisdictions with primary elections.

In District 5, Susan Baldwin, D-South Dayton, will be running against Amy Farnham, D-Forestville. The District 16 race will be between Ron Lemon, R-Frewsburg, and Tamera Downey, R-Jamestown. Those registered as Republicans in District 18 will decide between David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, and Fred Croscut, R-Sherman. Additionally, Thomas DeJoe, D-Brocton is running unopposed in District 7, with an opportunity to ballot.

DISTRICT 5: BALDWIN V. FARNHAM

Baldwin, who is a retired nurse from the Chautauqua County Home, has never run for legislator before. Farnham, her competitor in the primary race, ran nearly 20 years ago.

Following her retirement in 2009, Baldwin said she has spent the last several years attending legislature meetings, “telling them how they ought to do their job.”

“(I) decided maybe it ought to by my job, because they’re not doing it well,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin said her mother had been a patient at the County Home. Her ties to the home have helped her to become educated in its day-to-day operations.

“It’s a good place, and I wanted to keep it from being sold,” she said. “So I did all of the rallying and petitioning and all of that stuff to keep it from being sold, and it hasn’t been yet. Every month, I would go up there. I’d be up there, and I’d be like, ‘You guys aren’t reading your stuff, you aren’t paying attention, I read a 132-page CGR study, how many of you guys did that? You’re making decisions for all of us based on 20 or 30 phone calls from a few people.’ I even yelled at them one day, I said, ‘You know 5,000 people are in your district. You mean to tell me that 2,500 people told you to sell the nursing home, and 2,500 people told you not to sell the nursing home? And you’ve made the decision to sell it based on that?’ Now, I’m not a real popular person over there. But, I’m doing it anyway.”

Baldwin said she has gone door to door speaking with people in the district.

“I’m here to keep our 4-H out of Social Services hands, because that’s where they’ve put them,” Baldwin said. “There’s not as much good funding for 4-Hers, and that’s a big deal here because this is a big farm area.”

Additionally, Baldwin said she would like to keep businesses going to help with taxes, as well as encourage new small businesses in the area.

“I’m seventh generation living in this county, and this is where I want my family to be,” she said. “I want everybody else’s family to want to stay here, too.”

Farnham said that although she ran in District 5 nearly 20 years ago, the district was quite different from what it is now.

“This particular year, they readjusted all of the districts, and downsized (the legislature) by six,” Farnham said. “That left us in a very strange situation. In District 5, we actually had two sitting incumbent legislators, Bob Stewart and Bob Duff, sitting in the district.”

Duff, Farnham said, has been a family friend for many years, which has prevented her for running for legislator against him. However, with Duff making the decision not to run again, Farnham found the perfect opportunity.

“I think the biggest determinant of that is that I’ve been sitting on the Sheridan Town Board for 10 years,” Farnham said. “It’s just to the point where I feel that in order to help the town of Sheridan and the rest of the district, which is Arkwright, Villenova, Cherry Creek and then I’ve got a couple of places in Pomfret. I think it has to be done from the county level. The opportunity and the timing was perfect, so here I am.”

As the minority on the board, Farnham said it has never played party politics.

“I don’t feel at that level – or, even at the county level – that there’s any room for it, especially now,” she said. “I look forward to working with the administration, whatever it should look like after this next election, with Mr. Edwards bowing out as well. I think it’s time that we need to cross those party lines, as I said, and work together and try to increase the infrastructure and the industry and small businesses in this county.”

Like Baldwin, Farnham opposes the sale of the County Home. She said she doesn’t look at the home as being a financial burden; rather, she said it is an entity that belongs to the people of Chautauqua County.

“Anybody that has had an opportunity to have a family member or a neighbor or a friend go into care in the home knows exactly what I’m talking about,” Farnham said. “I would be working hard – hopefully, if they don’t sell the thing out from under us before January, it looks like they are trying again – I would be a proponent of keeping it right where it belongs, and that’s for the residents of Chautauqua County.”

DISTRICT 16: DOWNEY V. LEMON

Downey and Lemon have both spent time as legislators in the past. Lemon said he served for three years in 2008, 2009 and 2010, before serving as clerk of the legislator for seven months. Downey served in 2011, following the departure of Lemon. She also ran in the 2012 race.

“I never stopped working for the people of my district,” Downey said. “Since that time, even though I lost the race, I’ve continued to go to county meetings, I’ve continued to go to town meetings. I’ve still been very active in the community, so it was just a natural thing for me to want to run again.”

Although she lost the race in 2012, Downey said she never stopped working for the people in her district. In that time, she has continued to go down county and town meetings.

Downey said she has several points of interest when it comes to improving Chautauqua County. First, she said she would like to upgrade county infrastructure, to become more attractive to businesses. Downey is also a farmer, and would like to work to make Chautauqua County a larger part of a food hub, which she said would make farms more profitable. She also said she would like to create a solid workforce by using the Welfare to Work program.

“We have so many people out there that are able to work, and, through skilled training we can create a good, solid workbase, again attracting good businesses,” she said.

Finally, Downey is part of the Blue Star Mothers, and, as such, is very involved with veterans.

“We really need to have a place for our veterans when they come home,” Downey said. “I’m right now in the process, with the Blue Star Mothers, we are creating an education program – between the Blue Star Mothers, adult education and veterans services – so that when they come home they can get some training so they’re not lost. They can go to work in a couple months, they can go right to work and continue to contribute to their community.”

Lemon is running under the slogan “Lemon ICE,” which stands for integrity, commitment and experience.

“The last time I ran, it was ‘I’m tired of sour politics.’ I think there are certain issues that I stand on the right side of, that I would represent the people of the new District 16 very well,” Lemon said. “I think I know the heartbeat of the community. With my integrity and my commitment and my experience, I can do what needs to be done to hopefully accomplish some of those things. That’s what I’m hoping for. I drive a school bus, I pastor a church. I hesitated to run, but I had so many people ask me if I was going to run, or ask me to run that I just felt like I really needed to.”

Additional information about Lemon can be found on Facebook by searching “Ron Lemon for County Legislature District 16.”

DISTRICT 18: CROSCUT V. HIMELEIN

The new district 18 faces a primary unlike any other. It is the only district in the primary pitting two incumbents against one another.

“In downsizing, they had to increase the district sizes,” Himelein explained. “When it came around to this area of the county, this is the way it lined up. In some places, it put Democrats against Democrats, Republicans against Republicans.”

Croscut made the decision to run again because he said he thoroughly enjoys the job.

“I’ve been able to serve for the last 16 years on various committees, for one thing,” he said. “Being able to serve now on the Planning and Economic Development Committee has certainly brought a lot of insight to how hard that office works to retain business, keep up with changes in local business and try to work with bringing in new business. Plus, my interests in agriculture. I’m currently the only dairy farmer on the legislature. Now, with being so close to being done with Chautauqua Lake, the management committee that I work on, really keeps my interest in obviously trying to make a difference.”

On the other hand, Himelein said he is running again because of the overwhelming encouragement he has received.

“The people in the district, they want me to run again for legislator,” Himelein said. “And, it’s across the board. It comes from Republicans, Conservatives, Independence, Democrats, all of them. I’m kind of proud that I do have the endorsement after interviewing, the endorsement from the Independence and Conservative parties. I’ll be on those lines also, come this fall. It’s basically, I’ve got the backing of the people, and the encouragement. They’ve asked me to run. So, I will run.”

Croscut said voters should look at his record over the last 16 years in deciding for whom to vote. He said he started out with the Public Safety Committee, because he is a former volunteer fireman.

“I have the utmost respect for the fire service. I’m a 35-year veteran, so to speak, of the Sheriff’s division, so I have a great respect for law enforcement,” Croscut said. “Plus, my service on a local school board prior to running for the legislature. I think those are the things you’ve got to look at. Plus, my present work with the Sherman Shop, trying to keep it open, trying to get across the concern of the employees that work there, and being the first legislator to sit down with County Executive Edwards and George Spanos to see how we could keep it open.”

Himelein said he is asking people to vote for him, saying he will be a voice for the people in his district.

“I feel that I’m a representative who will listen to their concerns and then vote the way the majority have expressed those concerns,” he said. “As a member of the Audit and Control Committee, I will try my best and diligently review the county budget, and, if feasible, propose ways to reduce costs to the taxpayer.”

Both men agreed running against a fellow incumbent under the new district lines is not idea. However, both expressed a passion for the position.

“I have the utmost respect for Mr. Himelein,” Croscut said. “Obviously, I’m just urging residents to take a look at the record. As I go out and talk to people, I’m getting them to commit. So, we’ll see what the primary outcome is.”

“I guess that wouldn’t be my first choice if I had to run in an election. But, it is that way because the way that the will of the people wanted us to downsize the legislature,” Himelein said. “Win or lose, I want to be known really as a Chautauqua County Legislator, and not a politician. I think that’s what the people deserve, a good, honest legislator.”