I am a longtime small business owner, a veteran, the county Independence chair and a former candidate for Chautauqua County clerk. With this background I strongly advocate the choice of Lori Cornell for county clerk.
We often hear our elected leaders and candidates refer to the "private sector" in both criticizing actions of government and touting their credentials. In the private sector, as in many other places, education is of high value. Lori Cornell has earned a degree from Notre Dame, and went on to get a master's degree from the St. Bonaventure School of Business. In considering an individual for a professional position, such as the county clerk's office, the private sector would place a high value on this level of education when comparing another candidate for a job that has no such background. We should do the same. In addition, the private sector would consider relevant experience. Lori Cornell has fifteen years of experience both locally and nationally.
She has advised small businesses on marketing. She has run an office before. She has both the education and relevant experience making her the most qualified for the job, hands down.
In addition, the private sector values leadership skills. Lori Cornell has certainly shown that she has these skills. She is willing to lead on an issue and take bruises along the way if it furthers one of her goals, such as neighborhood revitalization, reducing the size of the County Legislature, supporting 4-H or protecting our lakes and waterways. And she is no shrinking violet. She does not let outside pressures dictate the priorities she values. And, she does her due diligence. This is the definition of leadership. You may not always agree with her positions, none of us agrees completely with someone else, but you have to value the leadership that she has demonstrated. She has been out in front and is willing to lead. We should embrace this value.
One particular example illustrates this choice on Tuesday quite well. Lori Cornell led the effort to form a non-partisan commission to redraw County Legislature districts. Her effort led to the formation of an independent commission that included the Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters. Her party may not have been pleased, but she knew this would result in legislature districts that respect and value communities. The commission produced a non-partisan redistricting proposal, but ultimately failed and a partisan plan, produced by her opponent, was approved without her support. Lori Cornell's leadership in creating a non-partisan approach to the longtime tradition of partisan political gerrymandering further illustrates which of the choices before the voters on Tuesday has the leadership skills and disposition for county clerk. One person stood up for what was right and best for the county, the other stood up for his political party.
The county clerk's office should not be a partisan political job. So while we hear politicians from Washington, Albany and locally tout the private sector and how government should be more like the private sector, let's consider what a private sector organization would do if presented with the two candidates we have for Chautauqua County Clerk. Lori Cornell is highly educated, has relevant experience, has clearly demonstrated strong leadership skills, is self-motivated, and has the energy and commitment for the job. She is hands down the most qualified for the position and the best choice for our county. It was as easy choice for us independents we endorsed Lori Cornell. I urge you to support this bright and qualified leader as well on Tuesday.
Thom Shagla is chair of the Chautauqua County Independence Party.