Wilfong Selected As City Mayoral Candidate

Dave Wilfong is the Jamestown Republican Committee candidate for the 2019 city mayoral election. Wilfong will be facing Andy Liuzzo, At-Large city councilman, in a primary election in June. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A six-year member of the Chautauqua County Legislature is changing course to run as the Jamestown Republican Committee candidate for mayor.

On Tuesday, the Jamestown Republic Committee selected David Wilfong to be their next candidate for mayor. Wilfong is the District 11 county legislator and Chautauqua County Republican Committee chairman. He has lived in Jamestown most of his life and was first elected to public office in 2013 when he was voted into the Chautauqua County Legislature. He won re-election in both 2015 and 2017, serving on the legislature’s Human Services and Public Facilities committees.

Wilfong is the director of maintenance at the Rehabilitation Center in Olean. He is also a state certified building inspector and served in the U.S. Army for five years. He told The Post-Journal now is a great time to be the mayor of Jamestown with so much new development being done in the downtown.

“I know we have real financial issues, but a lot good is going on in the city. We’re on the cusp of a lot of success,” Wilfong said. “I’m hoping to bring some of the success we’ve had here at the county level. I look forward to the challenge.”

Brent Sheldon, Jamestown Republican Committee chairman, said he believes the committee selected Wilfong because of his experience as a legislator and because in his professional career he deals with issues like budgets and personnel.

“He has had good results at the county level where they have lowered the tax rate,” Sheldon said. “He works well with others. He works well with Democrats as well as Republicans in Mayville. He has the right stuff to take the reigns from Mayor (Sam) Teresi to right the ship, so to speak.”

With Andrew Liuzzo, Jamestown At-Large city councilman, already announcing his candidacy as a Republican there will be a primary election held in June between the two candidates if they both circulate petitions and receive the correct number of signatures. Sheldon said Wilfong will have an advantage having the committee’s support who will also be assisting in circulating petitions to gather signatures.

“I think Mr. Wilfong has a good chance to win the primary. Most of the people on the committee are on his side and other people too,” Sheldon said. “Andy Liuzzo made it clear he was going to run a primary whether he received the endorsement or not, and that is his right. I hope it doesn’t fracture the party too much. I hope after the primary we can come together to unite the party to have a Republican in the mayor’s seat for the first time in 20 years.”

Wilfong said he welcomes the primary election against Liuzzo because, at times, it’s part of the election process.

“By June, I will have had plenty of time to get my message out,” he said. “I could not sit back without trying to get involved.”

Wilfong said he is open to some of the new state election laws that have sped up the petition and primary process. He also appreciates the new election law that requires potential candidates to collect 25 percent fewer signatures than in past years.

“That means less time for me to spend walking through the snow and the cold collecting signatures,” he said. “I like the petition process. It’s a chance to go door-to-door asking people for their vote.”

Sheldon said it was a long process to find a candidate for mayor.

“There were a lot of good candidates out there that didn’t think they could run at this time, but we have a good candidate in Dave and we think he is going to win,” Sheldon said.

The Jamestown Democratic Committee is slated to endorse its candidate for mayor Thursday. The Democratic Committee endorsement is needed following the announcement earlier this month that Teresi would not be seeking re-election after 20 years in office.