County GOP machine on cruise control

Early voting for this year’s November elections begin on Sunday, Oct. 24 at locations in Mayville, Jamestown, Lakewood and Dunkirk.

Chautauqua County Republicans appear to be less than engaged when it comes to this year’s election. A visit to its home page at www.chautauquagop.com shows two bits of information: one congratulating the candidates for 2020 and another promising more news coming soon.

Recent updates — like those that have occurred over the last 12 months — are apparently lacking urgency.

Its Facebook site, however, shows a bit more activity with updates on candidates and coming events. In all, there were 505 people who liked the page.

Who needs friends when you’re racking up votes?

With the exception of some city, town and village posts, Republicans rule the roost. They command the county, holding all the major offices as well as 14 of the 19 Legislative seats.

So in control are the members, it means there is rarely a debate or dispute in the Mayville chambers. If Republicans want something done, it happens — usually with very little resistance, especially in the last four years.

Overall, the party has a commanding 27 to 13 lead in representation at the top post for the towns, villages and cities with two in the leadership positions not linked to the major affiliations.

Democrats, for their part, began reeling when former longtime state Assemblyman William Parment decided in 2010 he would not seek re-election. Since his seat was won by Andrew Goodell, a red wave has dominated local politics. Is that much control by one party for better or worse?

One thing that is evident where there is significant leadership by the left — especially in the larger municipalities — is a semblance of dysfunction.

Consider the two major north-county population centers in Dunkirk and Fredonia. In the city, Mayor Wilfred Rosas has dealt with plenty of pushback from a council that is buoyed by a registered Democrat who relishes his role as having a supermajority vote with three other Republicans. It gives the legislative branch no worries when it comes to vetoes.

Fredonia has struggled for years with harmony. For more than a decade, Village Board members have not seen eye-to-eye with its mayor, who has no vote in any of the resolutions unless there is the rare tie. That makes the person at the top the face of the village, but gives little power to the position make it happen.

Jamestown, on the other hand, is much more cordial in making things happen. Even when times are not harmonious, there is a sense of respect that comes from the council and Mayor Eddie Sundquist.

All three of these entities have races for council and trustee positions that could change the dynamic in leadership. That means relationships could get better — or possibly worse.

Political signs, specifically those currently displayed in yards, point to continued GOP leadership. It has not gone unnoticed by the underdogs.

Norm Green, who is challenging incumbent County Executive PJ Wendel, noted he has the endorsement of both city mayors and Pomfret Supervisor Dan Pacos, all Democrats. Those three municipalities represent a total of 54,775 citizens — still less than half of the county’s 127,000 population.

It is unquestionably an uphill battle for those who bleed blue here. That is a reflection more of a trend in rural America’s values than it is for how the party has been run over the last six months.

As for Republican leadership here, many are vocal in noting the major disparity seen in Albany due to dominance by Democrats. They are correct. It is not a two-party effort when it comes to the state capital.

It is not much different in Chautauqua County. When one side is on a winning streak, it is tough to be bipartisan.

John D’Agostino is the editor of the OBSERVER, The Post-Journal and Times Observer in Warren, Pa. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 253.


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