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Green fires back at Nazzaro, legislative democrats

Norm Green

The chairman of Chautauqua County’s Democratic Party is firing back against criticism leveled by the Chautauqua County Legislature’s five Democrat members.

Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown and legislature Democratic minority leader, said in a letter sent to The Post-Journal and other media outlets late Tuesday night that the Democratic Legislative Caucus had planned to stay silent on the issue of Green’s successor until after a decision had been made in a lawsuit filed by Green and Luz Torres, Green’s choice to be the next Democratic election commissioner, against the legislature last week.

The lawsuit filed by Green and Torres claims the legislature and Democratic Caucus respondents appear about to proceed without and in excess of their authority under the Election Law and New York state Constitution by appointing … Kent instead of one of the recommended/certified names.” Named in the lawsuit are the county, the County Legislature, Kent, Katherine Tampio, Legislature clerk; and Democratic legislators Charles Nazzaro, Robert Whitney, Paul Whitford, all of Jamestown; Robert Bankoski of Dunkirk and Christine Starks of Fredonia.

Green said the two major parties of New York state have the right to recommend election commissioners. The County Legislature, within the first 30 days following the party recommendation and then the party caucus of the same registration in the second 30 days following a party recommendation have the right to ignore or reject the recommendation. If rejected, or ignored by the legislature, the political party may send up another name to add to the pool of recommended nominees. If the party fails to act, then the legislature may appoint without a party recommendation.

“We citizens have never before in the last 100 years have had any party recommendation turned down at the county level,” Green said in a news release Wednesday. “Minority Leader Chuck Nazzaro can make this about something other than what it is, but he absolutely should address why the Chautauqua County Legislature’s Administrative Services Committee unanimously approved the County Democratic Committee’s majority vote choice to be election commissioner and then at his request each of the five members (one Democrat and four Republicans) withdrew their votes moments before the full Legislature was to act in December, forcing Luz Torres’s nomination off of the agenda. Luz Torres deserves an up or down vote.”

Nazzaro said Kent expressed interest in becoming the election commissioner early in 2020 and garnered the support of the Democratic Legislative Caucus. Nazzaro wrote legislators expected Kent to be supported by the county Democratic Party Committee during its Feb. 22, 2020, meeting Nazzaro says Green pushed Torres with no notice. When a motion was made to appoint Kent, Green adjourned the meeting with no action being taken. Nazzaro also claimed that in the period from the February meeting until a vote was taken later in the summer in 2020 that Democratic County Committee members were being removed and new members added by the Executive Committee, with some of the removed members not knowing they were removed and others added in districts where they did not live.

Green, however, said the party’s rules were followed and Torres was the rightful winner of the vote.

“The selection of Luz Torres to be the party’s recommendation was done by a process that was agreed to by both the Luz Torres and Loren Kent supporters,” Green said. “The ballots were mailed by Loren Kent and myself jointly and ballots were returned to a Jamestown attorney’s office. The only committee members allowed to vote were duly elected county committee members who had filed petitions with the Chautauqua County Board of Elections. The ballot opening meeting was viewed over the internet by the media and fully reported. If Loren Kent had won, those of us supporting Luz would have said congratulations and Loren Kent would be the commissioner today because the Democratic caucus would’ve gotten their man and we would’ve been the loyal Democrats we are.”

Green said the improper dealings are not his, but an extension of a wing of the county Democratic Party that has worked against Mayor Willie Rosas of Dunkirk. Green ended his release by restating his reasoning for backing Torres for Democratic election commissioner.

“”We as a party stand for promoting people of color and the significant Spanish language voters in our county deserve to be represented at the Board of Elections,” Green said. “Loren Kent and his supporters started complaining about the result some days after the fair and totally above board voting process was completed. This is an extension of the attacks by a very few off the rail Democrats in Dunkirk who are working against New York State’s first Hispanic mayor and now attacks to stop Chautauqua County’s potentially first ever Hispanic election commissioner. Our lawsuit is intended to make everyone follow the law. Possibly the opposing side will win on some technicality, but they will never win on the law. Luz Torres is currently the deputy Democratic Election Commissioner. She is fully qualified and fully trained to be Election Commissioner. If approved, she will be first ever Hispanic Department Head in county history and will be the first ever CSEA member promoted to election commissioner. We in the majority who support her will not give up the fight of right over the half-truths and absolute incorrect assertions of Chuck Nazzaro and are confident the court will agree with us on our reading of the law.”

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