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Legislature Proposes To Change Vacancy Law

MAYVILLE — The Chautauqua County Legislature is discussing a local law to change the county charter for how the vacancy of the county executive might be filled.

On Monday, the legislature’s Administrative Services Committee discussed the proposed local law change with Stephen Abdella, county attorney. Abdella said the proposed local law would change how the county executive position would be filled if vacant. The new law proposes that the legislature would select someone to fill a vacancy within 30 days. He said the appointed county executive would serve until the next general election. At that point, someone would be voted by the residents of the county to be county executive, who then would serve until the end of the original term.

As an example, Abdella presented the circumstances that could currently lead to the position of the county executive being vacant. George Borrello, county executive, is running for the 57th State Senate seat that was vacated earlier this year by former state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean. If Borrello was to be elected to the position in November, there would still be two years and almost two months left on his original term as county executive.

Abdella said if this was to happen, the legislature would appoint someone to replace Borrello as county executive, who would then be in that position until the next general election in November 2020. At that point, county residents would elect a county executive to finish Borrello’s original term that ends at the end of 2021.

If the position is vacated, whoever is appointed would have to be a resident of the county and a member of the same political party. Borrello is a Republican.

According to the proposal, if the county executive’s position was to become vacant after Aug. 1 during the last year of the term, the acting county executive would perform the duties of the position for the rest of the term. Abdella said this is to prevent a possible candidate for county executive to be selected by the legislature close to the November general election, which might be considered an advantage.

Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, said it’s a great idea and there really hasn’t been a need to worry about a vacancy in the county executive’s position for the 40-plus years of Chautauqua County government. Abdella said twice the position has been vacated early, but only for a short time.

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