Propositions To Play Important Role In Election

MAYVILLE — County Legislature seats aren’t up for election, but a proposition on this year’s ballot could decide the future structure and direction of the 19-member group.

Voters heading to the polls next Tuesday will decide whether county legislators should hold office for four years as opposed to two years upon being elected. If voters give their approval, legislators voted to office in the 2017 election would serve longer than state legislators and representatives in Washington, D.C. who serve two years.

The vote to lengthen years in office comes after the County Legislature approved a local law in July to place the proposition on the ballot. The majority of legislators voted to put the proposition on the ballot while Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, was the only one who voted no.

Legislators who favor extending years in office say it would allow them to focus more on their legislative duties as opposed to constantly running re-election campaigns. Others contend that two years per term is enough time for constituents to grade their legislators and determine whether they should serve another two years in office.

Brian Abram, Republican elections commissioner, said a proposition only needs more “yes” votes than “no” votes to pass.

“One vote difference between yes and no is a passing proposition,” he said.

If approved, County Attorney Steve Abdella said the local law would be filed with the Secretary of State and would take effect Jan. 1, 2018. Abdella said the legislature and the county executive don’t need to act on the law if the proposition is approved by voters.

“They passed it previously to put it on the ballot, so no further approval from the County Legislature or the county executive will be necessary,” he said.

Propositions to extend years in office have appeared on the ballot in elections before. However, voters have opposed the change.

In Forestville, voters will see an additional proposition as it relates to initiating a dissolution plan. If more voters give their approval, the village would dissolve as originally planned on Jan. 1, 2017. If the proposition doesn’t pass, the matter wouldn’t be able to come up again for another four years.

Village officials will appear on the ballot in event the proposition does fail. A sample ballot on the Chautauqua County Board of Elections’ website shows three Republican candidates up for village positions: Kevin L. Johnson for mayor and Gary A. Belote and James M. O’Connell for trustee.

In Brocton, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to move village elections from the third Tuesday in March to the November general election. If approved, the change would take effect for the 2017 election.