MAYVILLE - Legislator Lori Cornell is planning to forego her legislative seat to run for county clerk.
The Jamestown Demo-crat will square off against co-legislator Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, for the title. Cornell said she is looking forward to the campaigning process.
"I welcome the opportunity to provide for a good Democratic process for the voters of Chautauqua County," Cornell said. "In all honesty, I work very well with Larry Barmore in the legislature. My background is in leadership. I think one of the keys of leadership is seeking consensus and working, in the case of politics, across party lines. I think Larry and I have done our best to really do that, and I look forward to a fair and honest campaign."
This will be Cornell's second attempt to attain the office, after challenging incumbent Sandy Sopak eight years ago. Cornell said her goal is to lead an innovative, nonpartisan operation that strives to improve customer service every day, and to save taxpayers as much money as possible.
"Campaigning is one of those challenging endeavors in any political career," Cornell said. "I love to campaign. I will work as hard as I worked in 2005. This is just a little better opportunity than it was eight years ago. It's an open seat. I wish nothing but the absolute best for retiring County Clerk Sandy Sopak, and I will do everything possible to run the kind of campaign that will allow me to become her successor."
Cornell said the decision to run for county clerk was a difficult one, as she loves serving in the Legislature. However, in order to run for the higher office, she will need to pass on the opportunity to run for a third term.
"At the end of the day, I think that being in an office as non-partisan, as county clerk should be, it's a better opportunity for me to able to more completely serve my constituents and all of the residents of Chautauqua County. So, I'm going for it," she said.
In addition to serving nearly two terms in the Legislature, Cornell has held full time positions of leadership in municipal, county, state and the federal government. Additionally, she has worked in the private sector as an independent consultant to assist small businesses in marketing and sales capacity. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Jamestown Community College.
Cornell received her master's degree from the St. Bonaventure University School of Business and her bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame, where she was accepted into the Hesburgh Honors Program. She is a graduate of Dunkirk High School.
As a legislator, Cornell led the effort to form a non-partisan commission to redraw county Legislature districts and to improve declining housing in the county. She has been an advocate for Chautauqua Lake and youth development opportunities such as 4-H, a longtime ally in the push to reduce the size of the county Legislature, and has consistently opposed tax increases across her desk.
A Dunkirk native, Cor-nell resides in Jamestown where she has been actively involved in the Jamestown Schools PTA, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, Business and Professional Women, Mothers of Preschoolers, Babe Ruth Baseball, the YMCA Partner with Youth campaign, and First Covenant Church. Her board service has included the Chautauqua County Land Bank, Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, Kiwanis Club, Housing Authority and Jamestown Property Rehabilitation.
Democratic Chairman Norm Green said he expected full support of Cornell's candidacy at Saturday's upcoming Democratic endorsement meeting.
"She's a natural leader and is easily one of the most highly organized administrators I've ever met," Green said. "Her attention to detail, ability to think creatively and effectively lead a team make her an excellent choice for county clerk."
Cornell lives in Jamestown with her husband, Chuck and four sons: Ben, Nate, Zach and Nick.