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County Executive transition slated for end of year

MAYVILLE — George Borrello’s transition from the office of Chautauqua County executive to state senator should be completed by the end of the year.

On Election Day, Borrello defeated Austin Morgan to win the special election for the 57th State Senate District. Because it was a special election, Borrello doesn’t have to wait until the beginning of next year to take office in Albany.

“I will take office when the paperwork is filed,” Borrello said. “I can’t give you a specific date. I imagine it will be before the end of the year.” The new state senator said he has 30 days after the election to file his oath of office for the position. At that point, Borrello has to wait for the secretary of the Senate to determine when Borrello can officially become the next representative for the 57th District.

“My intention is in the next two weeks to file the (oath of office) paperwork,” he said.

Because it was a special election, Borrello will finish the original two-year term of Cathy Young, who resigned from the state Senate in February for a position leading the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech.

“I will only being filling out the remainder of Cathy Young’s term, which means I will have to run again next year,” Borrello said.

Borrello said he is proud of what he was able to accomplish as county executive since taking office at the start of 2018, which included trying to improve the water quality of Chautauqua Lake and starting the CAER (Countywide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation) initiative to combat the opioid epidemic.

“I’ve truly enjoyed being the county executive,” he said. “In a short time, we were able to accomplish a lot, like getting to know local business with my 100 businesses in 100 days. I learned their needs and concerns and it changed the focus of economic development to workforce development in the county.”

Borrello said once he has officially become a state senator, Stephen Abdella, county attorney, will become the acting county executive until the Chautauqua County Legislature approves the next county executive. Borrello said he will do what he can to make the transition to the next county executive as seamless as possible.

In August, the county legislature passed a local law detailing how a vacancy in the county executive office should be filled. PJ Wendel, R-Lakewood and county legislature chairman, said following the change, the appointment of the next county executive will be a member of the same political party. Borrello is a Republican so the next county executive will also be a member of the GOP.

Wendel said another step in the process is that the Chautauqua County Republican Party Committee has 45 days to recommend a candidate to be the next county executive. Once the committee makes a recommendation, the county legislature will then vote on whether to approve the candidate.

“Prior to August there really was no way to fill a county executive vacancy,” he said. “After looking at that, we decided, the leadership from both sides (of the aisle), that we needed to do something because if we would lose someone to anything like illness or a tragedy, the position would sit there idle.”

Wendel said there is pressure on the county legislature and the Republican Party Committee to make a selection and approve the next county executive quickly so the office isn’t vacant long. He said, as far as he knows, no Republican in the county has come forward to announce their intention on being the next county executive. Wendel was asked if he is considering to possibly be the next county executive.

“As a teacher, I’m in a unique position. After 20 some years in teaching, it is something I’m unlikely to return to if I leave,” he said. “People have approached me and given me their confidence. It’s a big decision for me and my family. I appreciate everyone’s confidence, the confidence they have in me. It’s a big decision for anybody. It’s change in livelihood.”

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