District 25 Legislator John Gullo II has made it publicly known that he is in favor of reducing the size of the Chautauqua County Legislature and is asking others to do the same.
According to the "17 for 17" Facebook page, 17 for 17 is a group of Chautauqua County residents who wish to see a reduction in the number of Chautauqua County legislators. "17 for 17" represents their wish to support and elect 17 legislators - of no particular party affiliation - who pledge to vote for a reduction to 17 Chautauqua County Legislators.
"In the past we've been unable to get that 17 votes, so I am just taking the position that to get a change I'm going to need 17 people who will vote for it," Gullo said.
OBSERVER Photo By Michael Rukavina
These “17 for 17” lawn signs can be picked up at the law office of Chautauqua County Legislator John Gullo II, on Central Avenue in Fredonia for anyone who wants to support the reduction of the Chautauqua County Legislature.
The size of the legislature can be changed every cycle, or census, when the district boundaries are reconfigured.
"Legislative districts have to be basically even with one another, one person, one vote. So if one district gets a lot more people and another has a lot fewer you have to re-balance them, essentially," Gullo said. "If you change the number of legislators as part of the process that is fine. But if you do it in between each census it takes 17 votes, a super majority to change."
The Chautauqua County Legislature has 25 members, elected every two years. The base salary is $9,000 and, Gullo said previously, they get a bit more for chairing a committee or taking a leadership role. No health insurance is included. The legislature has a staff of four persons: a clerk, two secretaries and a financial analyst. The actual expenditures in 2010 appear to have totaled $417,839.
"I've put together pledges, very simple pledges, that have the individual saying they will vote for 17 anytime it comes up," Gullo said. "It is being offered to all of the city legislators; it is not a political party thing, it is open to anyone from any party. Anyone who wants to run, I want to encourage people to run for office. If people want to use this as a campaign issue, especially if they're running against someone who won't vote for it."
His effort took a physical form about a week ago when Gullo ordered "17 for 17" lawn signs. He has ordered 250 so far and is giving them out at his law office on Central Avenue in Fredonia.
"I saw one the other day in Westfield and hopefully they'll hit the other side of the county," he said. "My thought here is this is one way of keeping this issue in the spotlight."
The county's reapportionment commission will meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the legislative chambers on the third floor of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville. Gullo said then a decision could be made at that time to reduce the legislature.
"Maybe it will be 15, maybe it will be 17, maybe it will be 19, maybe it won't," he said. "If we can get it done now that's even better. But I have no confidence in that, to be honest."
If it has to go to the election in November, Gullo said he is going to push to have 17 votes there next year.
To follow the "17 for 17" movement visit its Web page on Facebook.
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