Birrittieri Steps Down As Mayor

Cara Birrittieri

LAKEWOOD — Lakewood Mayor Cara Birrittieri officially resigned from office, effective Friday.

The village office received her letter of resignation, prompting Village Clerk Joseph Johnson to send out a press release detailing Birrittieri’s decision to end her term early. Her four-year term would have expired Jan. 1, 2020.

“It is with great regret that I am informing you I have decided to resign my position as mayor of Lakewood as of the end of the day today,” Birrittieri wrote in her resignation letter dated Oct. 5. “This decision is based solely on personal and medical reasons.”

After what was at the time an unexplained absence at the most recent village board meeting and accusations that she ordered Chautauqua Lake Association water tests earlier this summer without board approval, residents and village trustees and employees were left to wonder what Birrittieri’s plans were going forward.

“It’s the proper thing to do on her part,” said Ellen Barnes, village trustee, who said Birrittieri’s resignation was important for knowing what her intentions were. “Now we can move forward.”

Even though village trustees can now conduct village business without wondering what the mayor’s plans are, there is still a lingering question some have regarding who ordered the water tests and why the invoice was paid by the board in a 3-2 vote to approve an audit of claims. Barnes had heard from Douglas Conroe, executive director of the CLA, that Birrittieri had ordered the tests, but the former mayor had denied any involvement.

The public integrity unit of the attorney general’s office was contacted to begin an investigation regarding Birrittieri’s alleged unlawful expenditure that resulted in the village’s payment of $853.40 to the CLA. Barnes said the investigation will not move forward now that Birrittieri has resigned from public office.

Water tests completed by the CLA on June 12 were done due to a complaint by a village citizen, who had concerns that herbicides were sprayed off Lakewood’s shores during the treatment periods in other areas of Chautauqua Lake, including the nearby off-shore area of the town of Busti, by SOLitude Lake Management to decrease the amounts of invasive weeds in the lake.

In Birrittieri’s resignation letter, she wished all village staff, elected officials and volunteers the “very best in the future.” She offered her availability to be contacted going forward if she is needed for any reason in the transition period.

“It is my sincere hope that the village of Lakewood will continue to improve and prosper in the days, months and years ahead,” Birrittieri wrote.

“With the resignation of the mayor, this is a new day in Lakewood, and hopefully a new pattern of sharing of information with all the board members,” said Trustee Randy Holcomb.

Birrittieri was elected in November 2015 and began her term as mayor Jan. 1, 2016. Deputy Mayor Ted McCague will tentatively lead village business at board meetings, and the Village Attorney John LaMancuso will advise the board on how to proceed in Birrittieri’s absence.

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