MAYVILLE - Conservative and Independence voters in Chautauqua County will head to the polls Thursday to decide party nominations for County Judge and state Assemblyman.
Attorney William F. Coughlin, D-Fredonia, is challenging incumbent County Court Judge John T. Ward, R-Ashville, for the Conservative and Independence party nomination.
Incumbent state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, will face former legislator Dr. Rudy Mueller, D-Lakewood, for the Independence party nomination in the 150th Assembly District race.
No Independence endorsement was given this year.
"We chose not to endorse a candidate," said Thom Shagla, Independence Party chairman. "Rather than a few people in a room making a decision, we thought we would allow the people to decide."
Shagla said all four candidates in both races have shown "good attributes." He pointed to Judge Ward's 20-year tenure behind the bench; Coughlin's time in the county District Attorney's Office and Public Defender's Office; Goodell's first term in Albany as a state representative; and Mueller's service to the County Legislature.
"Is it the chicken way out? I don't know," he said of a lack of endorsements. "We just felt it would be better if the people decided."
As for the Conservative Party, Judge Ward has received outright support for a third 10-year term.
"We felt Judge Ward's experience and credentials and support of the law made him the clear choice for the Conservative voter," said Anna Wilcox, Conservative Party chairwoman.
"In contrast," she continued, "Democratic candidate Coughlin has had a checkered past at best. He just does not fall in with our Conservative values."
Mrs. Wilcox said she is "very confident" Ward will receive the Conservative Party nomination and ultimately remain judge after the Nov. 6 general election.
New York is one of nine states to allow electoral fusion voting. The practice allows candidates to run on multiple party lines, with all votes pooled for that candidate.
States that allow fusion voting include: Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and New Hampshire, when a write-in candidate wins a primary.
On Thursday, Republicans in the town of Charlotte also will vote to fill its vacant highway superintendent position. Mark LeBaron, who has received the Democratic endorsement, is running against Michael Livermore for the Republican nomination.