Stuffed shells, Italian meatballs and politics were on the menu for Thursday's annual Chautauqua County Democratic Committee Banquet.
This year's banquet honored Frank Gawronski, Dunkirk city democratic chairman, who was unable to be in attendance, as the 2013 Chautauqua County Democrat of the Year. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was the guest speaker for the event, which had Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb, D-At Large, as Master of Ceremonies. The event this year was held at the Jamestown Gateway Train Station.
Also speaking at the event was Sheriff Joseph Gerace, who introduced Schumer; Lee Harkness, executive director of the Gateway Station; Vince DeJoy, city of Jamestown director of development, speaking on behalf of Mayor Sam Teresi, who was also unable to attend; Congressional Candidate Martha Robertson; and Norman Green, Chautauqua County Democratic Committee Chairman. Doug Stock and Hank Hoisenton received a labor award.
Schumer began his portion of the evening with several jokes and humorous stories from his experiences as senator. He went on to discuss how middle class incomes have declined, how he said sequestration has happened in the wrong places, and how there have been education, infrastructure and research cuts, which have been detrimental to society. He then proposed several solutions to these issues.
"We all have to work to turn the country around," Schumer said.
DeJoy also spoke of some of the opportunities Jamestown and Chautauqua County have, stating that with County Executive Greg Edwards not seeking a third term, this will be the year Democrats regain control of the county.
"This is a wonderful time to be a Democrat," DeJoy said. "Now we have a chance here in Chautauqua County to take back the county executive position."
Democrat of the Year, Gawronski, is a lifelong resident of the city of Dunkirk, and is a retired special education teach from Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES. As a teacher, he led the BOCES Teachers Union as president. Currently, he is the political action coordinator for the New York State United Teachers in Chautauqua County, as well as a member of the Area Labor Coalition.
Additionally, Gawronski was elected to seven terms as Second Ward councilman, and one term as councilman-at-large. His elected city government service spanned 16 consecutive years. He is currently the chairman of the Dunkirk City Democratic Committee, which he has been a member of for more than 30 years.
He is a past member of the Dunkirk City Planning Board, Dunkirk Local Development Corporation and serves on the public works, finance and department of development committees as an elected official.