By LIZ SKOCZYLAS
OBSERVER Mayville Bureau
Vince Horrigan and Ron Johnson each have their own set of priorities when it comes to the chance of becoming county executive.
Both men have a military background, with Horrigan serving in the U.S. Air Force, and Johnson serving in the U.S. Army. Additionally, both men come from a business background. Horrigan served as director of the Red Cross in Chautauqua County before retirement. Johnson, on the other hand, is chief executive officer of Human Services Management Inc., and owns and operates Johnson Adult Homes of Forestville and Underwood Manor of Hinsdale.
Despite similar backgrounds, each man has a distinct idea of what their priorities will be if they become county executive.
"I've already developed three points that I intend to talk to the community about," Horrigan said. "It's kind of my vision for what I want to get done."
The first point Horrigan is making a priority is what he calls lean government.
"What I mean by lean government is high taxpayer value for basic services," Horrigan said. "Lean is a concept that is used so successfully throughout our business communities, in terms of value, in terms of customers pulling services, rather than pushing services down on them, and it translates to very high efficiency and value for our taxpayers."
Part of lean government, according to Horrigan, includes the sale of the Chautauqua County Home, as he feels it would be best run by a private entity, in order to give residents more opportunities. Additionally, Horrigan said he plans to speak with employees closest to delivering services, to best determine how to become more efficient.
"If we do that right, we're going to keep our property taxes under control, because we're going to pull cost out of government," Horrigan said.
The second priority Horrigan has in his quest to become county executive involves increased opportunity.
"This initiative will rotate around Welfare to Work, how we deliver public assistance, and how we implement work participation in Chautauqua County," he said.
This initiative, Horrigan said, includes bringing together key players to help ensure the people of Chautauqua County have the proper training and experience to work.
The final priority of his three-step program is growing the private sector.
"I really am focused on two very important areas," Horrigan said. "One is our tourism industry to make Chautauqua County a year-round destination. ... On the industrial side, the business development side, first and foremost, we need to reach out to our existing businesses to completely understand their challenges, and to look at ways we can assist them in expansion and retention."
Johnson, on the other hand, is looking at the big picture when it comes to possibly becoming county executive. He told the OBSERVER he is looking at his priorities from a business point of view.
"I believe that we need to bring a business point of view to county government," Johnson said. "My administration will not only encourage companies to invest in the county, but also create opportunities for families to thrive. I believe we need to bring back not just good-paying jobs, but careers. We need to look not just forward, but we need to look around the corner into the future."
Johnson said that he believes the biggest task right now is changing the point of view in Chautauqua County, which is what he intends to do with his administration.
"My experience is in business," Johnson said. "I was a county employee also, but most of my adult life, I've been running a business. Anyone who runs a business knows that unless you have to make payroll yourself, it's hard to understand that. I think we need to put that kind of thing back into county government."
Although he said there are many issues he plans to look at in the county, the main priority of his administration is looking at each individual issue from a business perspective.