Tarbrake: Economic development key in district

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles highlighting major issues facing area Chautauqua County legislative districts and the legislators who will preside over them.

Mark Tarbrake’s third term with the Chautauqua County Legislature will be different than the first two.

Beginning Wednesday, members of a downsized legislature will represent new districts.

Tarbrake will be the new representative of District 14, while his former district covered portions of West Ellicott, Busti and Fluvanna Avenue.

“It’s really a totally different ball game now,” Tarbrake said of his new assignment.

“It’s pretty extensive,” he continued. “My new district is a lot more spread out with a lot of farmland.”

He is passionate about agribusiness and said his wife Christine’s family was in the industry for more than 50 years.

In the last few months, Tarbrake said he had gotten to know several of his new constituents and thinks highly of those in his district, along with certain functions occurring there, such as the Gerry Rodeo.

In District 14, economic development is as much of an issue as it is countywide, he said.

“I think we’re making great strides in that area, and I think it’s important to attract large and small businesses here,” he said. “It affects every aspect of life. It’s important that we keep on the right track.”

Tarbrake said the Industrial Development Agency and former County Executive Greg Edwards have done a wonderful job over the course of the last eight years as far as attracting and keeping businesses in Chautauqua County.

“It’s important to keep that ball moving,” he said, adding that he believes County Executive-elect Vince Horrigan will do just as well.

Privatization of the Chautauqua County Home is the most important issue in the county in Tarbrake’s opinion.

“We need to get that sale done and get some taxpayer relief here,” he said. “When it’s sold, it’s going to really help the county and help the taxpayers. I’m scared if we don’t sell it, in a few years the people there will lose their jobs. I’m really hoping we can sell it and keep those jobs.”

Tarbrake said he and his peers will have to do more work and serve on more committees and commissions, such as the Human Services Committee, for which he was chairman, and the Administrative Services Committee, which he served in his last term.

In the next two years, he’d like to see the Welfare to Work program improve, and commended Christine Schuyler, director of Health and Human Services, for her work alongside Marge Johnson, director of certification within Social Services.

“They’ve worked very hard to set up a coalition with businesses in Chautauqua County and are working very hard to improve our numbers,” Tarbrake said. “I’m very proud of them. We still have work to do to get up to speed, but I believe that we’re on a good path.”