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New county legislators sworn in

January 21, 2016
By Jimmy McCarthy ( , Westfield Republican

Four new Chautauqua County legislators enter and 15 members return as the legislature prepares to confront a variety of challenges.

Kicking off the 2016 legislative session, county legislators were sworn in to office during an organizational meeting Jan. 4 at the Legislative Chambers in Mayville. New members entering the legislature are Kevin Muldowney, R-Dunkirk, Robert Bankoski, D-Dunkirk, Christine Starks, D-Fredonia, and Mark Odell, R-Brocton.

After the swear-in, legislators nominated Frank "Jay" Gould, R-Ashville, as chairman of the County Legislature. Gould, who is entering his fifth year as chairman, began by thanking the residents of District 17 for re-electing him as legislator. Gould said he will continue to work not only for the residents in District 17, which include the towns of Busti, Harmony, Clymer and French Creek, but all people of Chautauqua County.

Article Photos

Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
County legislators are sworn in to office by County Attorney Steve Abdella during Monday’s organizational meeting at the Legislative Chambers in Mayville. Four new members enter the legislature and 15 officials return to address Chautauqua County’s issues.

"The voice of confidence and the ability to represent (the people) in the legislature is deeply appreciated," Gould said. "The chairmanship is a position I feel honored to hold, and I look forward to working with all legislators on the issues and challenges we will face in the next two years."

In 2016, Gould said the legislature will address two major issues with the County Landfill expansion in the town of Ellery and the uncertainty of the NRG repowering project in the city of Dunkirk. Currently, Ellery officials are investigating a court challenge against the county over the expansion. The county's plans to expand the landfill are moving forward.

Uncertainty surrounding the NRG repowering project stems from a lawsuit by Entergy Corporation against the Public Service Commission. Failure to convert the facility from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas would hold devastating impacts to city residents, Dunkirk City School District and the county.

"NRG is definitely going to be a bear to salvage to be honest," said County Legislator David Himelein, R-Findley Lake, who was re-elected majority leader.

Himelein and County Legislator Charles Nazzaro, newly-elected minority leader, said job growth is a top priority the legislature must address this year. Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, said the county must take a more proactive approach to inform businesses about the Start-Up NY program established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"No discredit to anyone here, but we need to do more," Nazzaro said. "Both the north and the south county are experiencing job losses with the Carriage House closure, NRG uncertainty and Cummins layoffs. I think we really have to focus on economic development."

Overall, Himelein and Nazzaro said they expect both parties in the legislature to work cooperatively through the county's challenges.

"We all understand the issues that are facing us whether its budgetary issues, the potential closing of NRG or economic development. We all have to continue to work together and listen to each other's ideas," Nazzaro said.

In other matters, P.J. Wendel, R-Lakewood, was appointed assistant majority leader and Bankoski was appointed assistant minority leader. The legislature appointed Kathy Tampio as clerk of the County Legislature, Lori Foster as secretary to the legislature and Ned Barone as public defender.



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