MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Legislature lost its sole Conservative Party member two years ago when Tina Hallquist decided not to run for re-election. Now goes the legislature's only other third-party member.
Scot Stutzman, I-Jamestown, has decided not to run for re-election this fall. As a result, he will vacate the District 14 seat in Jamestown after three terms in office.
"I have been very fortunate to serve in the legislature for six years following the completion of my term this December," Stutzman told The Post-Journal on Tuesday. "I have a great deal of respect for the office of which I have served along with the other government offices throughout the region, state and country. God has tremendously blessed me for the opportunity."
As reasons for deciding not to seek re-election, Stutzman cited commitment to his current job as well as time with his family, which he said takes precedence in his decision.
"I have not always agreed with the direction of government," Stutzman said, "especially in light of the way in which the nation continues to erode values, but I have enjoyed having a leadership role in Chautauqua County as the first elected Independent."
Stutzman continued on to say that serving in the legislature for the last few years has been one of his greatest joys outside of God and his family, and that he looks forward to returning to elected office in the future.
"This nation needs great leadership at all levels," Stutzman said. "It needs people that are willing to cross party lines and work toward restoring the integrity and economic strength of this great nation, under the values that it was founded upon. That's what I enjoyed most about the legislature and that's what I enjoy most about government in general.
"It's the people that take a stand for a nation that was founded under God and refuse to compromise, regardless of the politics associated with the issue or their individual party's persuasive abilities," Stutzman concluded. "I'm very thankful for the opportunity to have served the people of Chautauqua County and wish its leadership the very best in the years that follow."
Stutzman's District 14 seat is one of only five legislature seats being vacated this fall. Almost all of the other 20 sitting legislators have said they intend to run for re-election.
The other seats known to be opening up are those of Maria Kindberg, D-Jamestown; John Gullo, D-Fredonia; Doug Richmond, R-Westfield, and Dick Babbage, R-Bemus Point.
In Bemus Point, Vince Horrigan has announced his candidacy as the replacement Republican candidate for Babbage's District 17 seat. Other than Babbage, the only other individuals who have officially announced that they are running for office are Bob Whitney and David Wilfong. Both are running for the District 15 seat being vacated by Kindberg. Whitney is the Democrat candidate and Wilfong is the Republican candidate. According to Richmond, John Hemmer is the Republican committee's selection for District 22 in Westfield.
Any candidate seeking one of the soon-to-be-vacated legislature seats or challenging an incumbent legislator can send campaign announcements to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the newsroom by calling 487-1111, ext. 251.