There are four contested races for legislator in our region of Chautauqua County. This year's winners will find fewer seats in the chamber as the downsizing referendum that was passed in 2011 reduces the Legislature number from 25 to 19 in January.
Incumbents running unopposed for seats are: Keith Ahlstrom, district one in Dunkirk; Shaun Heenan, district two in Dunkirk; George Borrello, district six in Hanover; and John Hemmer, district 19 in Westfield and Ripley.
DISTRICT THREE - Two current legislators, due to the redistricting, face off for this seat in Fredonia and Pomfret. No matter who wins, residents can be assured they will have a dedicated and hard working representative. Both candidates, Bob Scudder and William F. Coughlin, are opponents of selling the County Home and closely scrutinize the county's expenses. Scudder said it best on Tuesday at the League of Women Voters debate, he does have the "heart and passion" for the job. The big difference in the two is Coughlin has the fire. He is more outspoken in his criticisms and questions. For that reason, Coughlin gets our nod in this district.
DISTRICT FOUR - Credit Janet Keefe for stepping up and running in this district of Fredonia and Pomfret. In her campaign announcement, she notes "our village (of Fredonia) and region have a great deal to offer." While we agree, our area will never be of interest to business and developers outside of this county until we get our excessive spending and overabundance of government under control. Her opponent, Michael Sullivan, is a former Fredonia mayor who beats that drum. We do as well. He gets our nod.
DISTRICT FIVE - Terry Niebel is no stranger to county government. A former election commissioner, he served as a county employee for three decades and knows the issues. His chief opponent, Susan Baldwin, has brought an energy like no other to the race. She has driven 4,000 miles in the new district that includes Arkwright, Cherry Creek, Pomfret, Sheridan and Villenova while knocking on doors. Her enthusiasm cannot be beat. But Baldwin is a one-issue candidate. With her, it is all about the County Home. We admire her spirit, but our backing is for someone who will take a closer look at the county's bottom line. In a race that also includes Amy Farnham, who has the endorsement of the Working Families Party, we back Niebel.
DISTRICT SEVEN - John Runkle is our type of legislator. He studies an issue and votes on it based on whether Chautauqua County, not just his region, benefits. He was so dedicated to doing that during his past terms, the county Republican legislators who blindly took marching orders from chief party leaders almost disowned him. His challenger Thomas DeJoe has a heart as big as Brocton and Portland. Too often, however, that heart can hinder his decision-making process. Both men will serve the Portland, Stockton and portion of the town of Chautauqua well, but we back Runkle.
What's your opinion?
Agree or disagree with our endorsement? You are welcome to tell us why through our People's column. Letters regarding the Nov. 5 election are being accepted through today at 5 p.m. The final day election letters will be published is Sunday.