New year, New Chautauqua County Legislature

MAYVILLE – For almost two months, members of the newly elected Chautauqua County Legislature has been preparing to take office.

On Thursday night, they were finally introduced.

The Hon. Judith Claire, Chautauqua County Family Court judge, guided the group of 19, downsized from 25, in promising to faithfully carry out their duties as legislators to the best of their abilities.

Shortly thereafter, Jay Gould, R-Ashville, was elected chairman of the legislature for the second time. He was chairman from 2012-13, represented District 19 for 12 years and is the new District 17 representative.

After 18 votes in his favor, he thanked new legislators for his nomination with a short speech.

“This body reflects the will of its people with fewer members and many new ones,” Gould said. “The voters spoke loud and clear to the direction they wanted to go and we must heed their call. As your chairman, I will do my best to make sure their voices are heard in this legislature.”

Gould added that he wants the legislature to work together for the good of the people of Chautauqua County and added that a decision must be made about the future of the County Home.

“It’s been four years (the decision) in the making and it’s another opportunity for economic growth,” he said.

After Gould’s speech, The Post-Journal and OBSERVER were designated as the official newspapers of the county.

Next, David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, was designated majority leader of the legislature for 2014, while John Runkle, R-Stockton, was appointed assistant leader.

Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk, was appointed minority leader and Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk, was appointed assistant minority leader.

Kathy Tampio was once again appointed clerk of the legislature at an annual salary of $17,993. Lori Foster was appointed secretary to the legislature for the year at a salary of $19.91 per hour.

Lastly, County Executive Vince Horrigan congratulated all new and incumbent legislators on their elected positions. He also thanked Steve Abdella for his time as acting county executive.

“For all of us, this is an exciting time,” Horrigan said. “I want to congratulate everyone for stepping forward at this important time for the county.”

He then acknowledged the empty seats in the chambers, signifying the newly downsized group.

“This means we’ll all step up and provide some additional help to benefit of the residents of our county,” Horrigan said. “I think we all want to make a difference. I’m going to be reaching out, pulling people together. At the same time I respect the division of government between executive and legislative branch. Great days are ahead.”

As for the new, downsized Chautauqua County Legislature, three new faces and two former legislators joined 14 incumbents. Thirteen Republicans and six Democrats will make up the downsized group of 19 rather than 25.

Democratic legislators include Fred Larson of Jamestown, District 12; Janet Keefe of Fredonia, District 4; Keith Ahlstrom of Dunkirk, District 1; Shaun Heenan of Dunkirk, District 2; Chuck Nazzaro of Jamestown, District 9; and Paula DeJoy of Jamestown, District 13.

Republican legislators include Terry Niebel of Sheridan, District 5; George Borrello of Irving, District 6; John Runkle of Stockton, District 7; Pierre Chagnon of Bemus Point, District 8; PJ Wendel of Lakewood, District 10; David Wilfong of Jamestown, District 11; Mark Tarbrake of Jamestown, District 14; Lisa Vanstrom of West Ellicott, District 15; Jay Gould of Ashville, District 17; David Himelein of Findley Lake, District 18; John Hemmer of Westfield, District 19; Bob Scudder of Fredonia, District 3; and Ron Lemon of Frewsburg, District 16.

Keith Ahlstrom was absent from the organizational meeting.