Locals Face Off For Busti GOP Seats

LAKEWOOD — Douglas Schutte, Randall Holcomb and Susan Drago are vying for two seats on the Busti Republican Committee, a competition that will be decided in Thursday’s primary election.

The Election District 3 race has been confused by some as a race for trustee seats on the Lakewood Village Board. Both Holcomb and Schutte are current Lakewood trustees, and Drago is a former trustee.

Holcomb and Drago are running for re-election; Schutte is running as a newcomer, causing the need for a primary election in the district. Two of the three candidates will represent the west portion of Lakewood on the Chautauqua County Republican Committee.

Republican voters in District 3 will vote for who they want to represent them at the Lakewood Baptist Church at the corner of Erie and Brook streets. The primary was moved from its normal Tuesday date to Thursday due to the anniversary of 9/11 and the second day of Rosh Hashana falling on Tuesday.

Brian Abram, Chautauqua County Republican Election Commissioner, said this is the first contested Republican committee race he’s seen during his 10-year tenure. Busti itself has five districts, and it’s rare for the town’s Republican committee to be full. Those running for the committee must live in the town of Busti.

“It’ll be interesting,” said PJ Wendel, Busti Republican Committee Chairman.

Wendel reiterated that it was rare to have a contested race. He said Holcomb and Drago have approximately 30 years’ experience each supporting Republican candidates. The committee orchestrates petitions and fundraisers in support of the party.

With 99 election districts in the county, Abram described the party committees as a “wide open door for people who want to serve.” The Republican county committee will meet to reorganize Sept. 18 and elect new officers.

Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday. Busiest times to avoid are the first hour of open polls and the evening dinner hour. By checking votechautauqua.com, interested citizens can check their voting records by clicking on “Personal Voter Lookup.” Sample ballots can also be viewed on the website.