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Kent staying on as secretary for county Democratic Committee

Loren Kent

Even though Loren Kent isn’t the Democratic Election Commissioner for Chautauqua County, he is planning on remaining in his position as secretary for the county Democrats.

In March, Kent was appointed to the position of Democratic Election Commissioner, only to have his appointment vacated by the state Supreme Court. Eventually that position was filled by Luz Torres.

Even tough Torres had the backing of the majority of the county Democratic Committee members and had been serving as the deputy election commissioner since 2018, her appointment upset a number of county Democrats, causing a number of resignations.

According to Kent, since March a total of 18 Democrats have resigned from various county committees.

The last three were from Chris Anderson and Nancy Padak, both from the Lakewood-Busti Committee, and Amy Near from the Pomfret Committee. Those three resigned shortly before Torres was appointed to the position.

Both Anderson and Padak, in their resignation letters, took issue with Norm Green, who is the county Democratic Committee chairman and had held the position of election commissioner until he retired. In Anderson’s letter she wrote, “The process by which the Chautauqua County Democratic Committee is run is anti-democratic and borderline unethical. I can no longer in good conscience support a committee and chair that chooses to continue to lead the party down this disastrous path. Committee decisions are made by only a few people who have weighted votes. The other 100 or so members have no power to make decisions. This creates a monopoly power structure where only a handful of people make important decisions. This is not democratic. It is an unbalanced and rigged structure that has been built over many years by the Chair to consolidate power and ensure he makes all the decisions for the party.”

Padak issued a similar sentiment. “Our County Democratic Party is broken, and I no longer have faith in the leadership of the County Chair, Norm Green. The Chairman has created a decision-making process that disenfranchises nearly all members of the County Committee. Because decisions are currently made by the Executive Committee, which uses a weighted voting system, three people control more than 90% of the votes necessary to pass any motion. This allows the Chairman and these three committee members to maintain power over the entire party, hardly a democratic process,” she wrote.

Near’s resignation letter also questioned Green’s effectiveness. “I think that the local Democratic Party under the current leadership of the party chair has lost focus on winning elections and on recruiting and cultivating successful candidates for Chautauqua County. Several younger Committee members have recently resigned from the Committee. Good people are leaving with no one being recruited to take their place. … I regret leaving the Committee when so much work needs to be done but I do not see a way forward with current leadership in place,” she wrote.

Those three resignations were submitted May 24. May 26 the legislature appointed Torres to the position of election commissioner. During that meeting, Democratic legislators said the appointment was intended to “start the healing process.” Since that night, Kent said he has received no additional resignations.

Even though Kent did not get the position of election commissioner, he said he has decided to stay in his position as secretary. “I have given considerable thought to resigning from the Democratic Committee myself, but after careful deliberation I have decided to continue. I can only hope that better days are ahead of us,” he said.

Green meanwhile, insists Torres was the most qualified person for the position and fairly earned the backing of the county Democratic Party. “Loren has falsely claimed that he lost his run for election commissioner because the county Democratic Committee was stacked against him with members who actually lived outside the town or city they represent. That’s a common and legal situation with both Kent and Torres committee supporters living in areas other than where they serve. All of the votes cast for Luz Torres to be our now-confirmed election commissioner were voted by committee members who circulated or had petitions circulated for them. No one was added to the committee before the vote and only committee members with petitions filed at the Board of Elections were allowed to vote,” he said, adding that “Loren Kent lost and I appreciate losing is hard.”

Furthermore, Green believes Dunkirk City Councilman Don Williams is entangled in this tension as well. “Loren Kent from the very beginning aligned himself with Dunkirk City Councilman Don Williams and their followers to take over the party and to put Loren Kent in as Election Commissioner. This alliance was, in my opinion, an extension of Don’s alignment with Dunkirk City Council Republicans and their firing city department heads. Don’s attempt to lash back after being called out for his own failures in public office is at the core of the Kent followers baseless attacks,” he said.

Williams is facing a primary this month against Natalie Luczkowiak for the First Ward.

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