Majority Of Local Races Going Uncontested

Unlike state and national elections, many town and village races will go uncontested yet again this year in Chautauqua County.

It’s a trend that continues despite the fact it’s a presidential election, which usually brings out more voters as opposed to nonpresidential elections. But between the constant criticism and the work necessary to run a campaign, people are staying away from the political scene at the local level. Out of nearly 30 town and village races in the county this year, only five will be contested.

“It takes a lot of energy and the truth is that some places can’t even find a candidate,” said Norman P. Green, Democratic elections commissioner and county Democratic party chair.

“The village of Panama is a perfect example. It’s the same people running all the time or not running at all. Last cycle, it was a write-in. That’s how one of the trustees got elected, by write-in vote, because there was no candidate on the ballot.”

In Panama, the mayor and two trustee seats are up for election this year — all of which will go uncontested with William F. Schneider the mayoral candidate and Jonathan Weston and Kim Davis the two incumbent trustees.

Some of the notable contested races include trustee seats in the villages of Fredonia, Silver Creek, Celoron and Mayville. In Fredonia, incumbent Catherine Creeley, who’s running under the Democratic and Working Families party lines, will face off against Republican Douglas Essek. In Silver Creek, voters in the village will have the opportunity to vote in two of the three trustee candidates in Democratic newcomer Anthony Borrello and Republican incumbents John Burt and Vincent Tampio.

In Celoron, voters will vote for two of the three candidates to trustee positions with Paul Shanahan, who’s endorsed by the Democratic and Republican parties, Michael P. Moss, Democrat, and Robin A. Young, Republican. In Mayville, Democrat incumbent Sharon Smead will face off against Republican Kenneth V. Shearer Jr.

The race for Ellery Town Justice will see a contest between Patrick Lucariello, Democratic and Conservative candidate, and John A. Ferrara, Republican candidate.

Fielding candidates is the parties’ jobs as Green said it’s no easy task for him. Green said there’s roughly 100 elected Democrats in the county and close to 300 elected Republicans. Green said it’s getting to a point in time in which parties won’t be able to find anybody to run for certain positions, much less getting someone to run against an incumbent.

“Back in the 1970s, elections throughout Chautauqua County were contested at nearly every level. It’s gotten progressively worse since then,” Green said. “People don’t want to put themselves out there. Who wants to be criticized? Nobody wants to be.”