MAYVILLE - There's a belief shared by some that all incumbent candidates should be voted out of office.
That sentiment can be seen from political signs on people's lawns to comments made online, such as those posted by readers to this newspaper's website.
Regardless of one's opinion on the idea though, it's hard to imagine incumbents not getting re-elected in this year's many local elections.
At the county level, only eight of the 25 legislature seats are contested - meaning two-thirds of the body will return to office next year, barring several last-minute, large-scale write-in campaigns.
A total of 10 Republicans are running unopposed at the county level, with a total of seven Democrats similarly unchallenged.
In Jamestown, eight incumbents are guaranteed re-election, as only one of the City Council's nine wards has a contested race.
Such participation in local government hasn't always been so scant though.
"That to me is a sad commentary," said John Glenzer of the many uncontested races at the county level this election. Glenzer was the first Republican county executive, serving from late 1983 through 1989.
Similarly, Joe Gerace, Chautauqua County's first county executive, said that he recalls more activity in those early years of the legislature.
He did stress, however, that as he has not been active in politics in recent years, he can't really compare current trends to those when he was in office - nor assess how active the parties are in recruiting candidates today versus years ago.
In addition to calling the uncontested races a sad commentary, Glenzer had a number other thoughts on the current state of local politics.
If you lose an election by a vote or two, for instance, your word is still respected, Glenzer said.
"You're not a politician. But if you win by one or two, all of a sudden you're a politician and your word becomes suspect," Glenzer said. "You become a target and so that's one of the reasons that it's very difficult to get people to run.
"I'm not saying that everyone who runs for office deserves respect," Glenzer continued. "But the problem is, when you're elected, you immediately become suspect in the eyes of a great many people and that's unfortunate. I think that keeps a lot of very talented people out, people who would have a good deal to offer to the governing process. It's just that they won't do it because of the abuse that they take just by virtue of having been elected."
In serving at several different levels of local government, as a village trustee, legislator and county executive, Glenzer said he interacted with a number of people in office who he disagreed with philosophically.
Still, Glenzer said Friday that he doesn't recall anyone in county government of either party that he ever thought was a crook or who he ever thought had gotten into the office for reasons of self-aggrandizement.
Glenzer continued on to question whether the tenor of government has changed since his time in office in the 1980s.
"For example, while Joe Gerace and I are not philosophically in tune, we always respected each other and to this day, Joe and I are friends," Glenzer said. "Even though we disagreed on many things, I never thought Joe was disagreeable. I always respected Joe even when we were on opposite sides. You can disagree without disliking each other and I always felt that this country was lucky that a guy like Joe, who was a very successful attorney, put government ahead of personal gain. Even though we weren't in the same party, I respected him for that."
John Glenzer doesn't see any reason not to downsize the Chautauqua County Legislature.
"I think that when the election occurs (this) Tuesday," Glenzer said, "I'll be very surprised if the move to reduce the size of the legislature isn't supported by the electorate. And as I've said, that's a start."
Glenzer said the downsizing of the legislature is just one of several such steps which should be taken to address government and taxes.
"I think we might be well served if in this economy there was the formation of some kind of committee that was as free as possible of political bias," Glenzer said. "I don't think there should be any office holders on such a committee and probably not even any former office holders like me, but certainly people from the Chamber of Commerce and others who are serious students of government. Then they could look at this whole thing and come up with a master plan to eliminate some of these layers of government and in doing so, save money."
Interested in similar ends, Mel McGinnis, a spokesperson for the local tea party chapter, the Southern Tier Tea Party Patriots, said the county shouldn't sacrifice its representation.
"With regard to the downsizing of the legislature," McGinnis said Friday, "I feel like there are much better ways in which to reduce spending."
McGinnis said the small sum of about $54,000 annually which downsizing might save is only a symbolic gesture when compared with the larger items which could cut Chautauqua County's costs.
"I feel like we are having our representation reduced when that ought to be one of the last things to go," McGinnis said.
Of the many uncontested races this year, McGinnis said it is a concern.
"I thought it would be a given that somebody would step up in these elections, so it was a little surprising to me," McGinnis said.
Of those who did step up, McGinnis pointed to the one contested Jamestown City Council race, which sees a newcomer candidate challenging incumbent Democrat Councilman Vince DeJoy.
"I appreciate how though he is very young, he was not afraid to put his name on the ballot," McGinnis said. "Good for him. I wish there were more like him who would step up to the plate like that."
The county's two election commissioners said Friday that turnout is directly impacted by the level of campaign activity put in by candidates.
Ward 4 in Jamestown should see an increase in voter turn out with its City Council race and parts of two active legislature races, both Norman P. Green and Brian Abram told The Post-Journal.
Green is the county's Democratic election commissioner and Abram is the county's Republican election commissioner.
There are also active local races in Busti, Clymer, Dunkirk City, Ellery, Ellington, Hanover, Kiantone, North Harmony, Poland (which has a ballot proposition), Pomfret, Portland, Ripley, Sheridan and Westfield, the officials said.
"The six legislative races outside of Jamestown will also increased activity," according to Green and Abram. "The countywide proposition has a lot of conversation, but seems doubtful to be a catalyst for voter turnout. The three local propositions, in the city of Dunkirk, Westfield and Poland, are all areas where there is extreme election activity already."