Reliable Schumer Always Makes Splash For County

From left are Martha Bills, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy and County Executive PJ Wendel.

Along the shores of the Barcelona Harbor last month stood a high-profile group of elected officials who are working to make things happen across this region and Western New York. Those representatives included U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy of state Congressional District 23, Dunkirk Mayor Kate Wdowiaz, Westfield town Supervisor Martha Bills, County Executive PJ Wendel and State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, who will be retiring after this year.

But the biggest spotlight on this day shined on U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer who, no matter what the temperature or weather conditions, can always be counted on to show up in Chautauqua County. As a brisk and bitter breeze whipped off Lake Erie, Schumer announced some significant funding for the location.

“Barcelona Harbor is one of the true gems of Chautauqua County — and a hub of its vibrant tourist economy – but the failing west breakwater allowing sediment to wash in threatens residents’ harbor use and the local tourism economy,” he said. “In 2022, I secured the funding needed to finally get dredging underway at Barcelona Harbor, and now I am here to say I have secured $7.5 million in additional funding to ensure the restoration of Barcelona Harbor can go full steam ahead.

“Now as we enter final budget negotiations, I will be fighting to protect this funding, navigate the choppy waters and deliver this funding in the final appropriations bills for Chautauqua County to finally repair the Barcelona Harbor breakwater.”

Schumer’s visits here are often bound to make some waves. In fact, it is that consistent presence here and across the state that is almost taken for granted by many. Since his election in 1999, he has annually made it his goal to visit all 62 counties getting to know regional strengths, leaders and landmarks.

Last year, Schumer was near the former Jamestown furniture factory building that became an eyesore after a major October 2022 blaze. His presence included federal funding that helped begin a major cleanup at the site.

Before the pandemic in February 2020, Schumer again stood near Lake Erie in Dunkirk weathering the freezing temperatures to speak on the plight of Vietnam veterans who had been touched more than four decades later by the affects of Agent Orange while serving our nation. “It’s an absolute disgrace to have our government say that you’re not getting the benefits you’re entitled to caused by your brave service overseas,” he said, noting 32,000 Western New Yorkers served in the war in the 1960s and ’70s.

During his area stop less than two weeks ago, Schumer was in the minority. Most of the political clout here, for better and sometimes worse — as was the case Wednesday with the party’s overwhelming approval of 63% pay hikes for part-time legislators in possibly the poorest upstate county — is held by the Republicans.

Langworthy, Goodell, Wendel and Bills were not only welcomed to his press conference, but celebrated by the senator. That’s because, through his quarter-century in Washington, he has valued partnerships that come from working with colleagues and across the aisle.

That is not always easy in an important election year such as 2024. Langworthy, who had a solid first year in Congress, has begun to take on a much more political tone that was routinely evident when he was the state Republican chairman as he seeks re-election. Within the last two months, he has jumped on the over-used impeachment tool for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas regarding the border while blaming inflation — a true two-party problem — on President Joe Biden.

Those tactics are not often in Schumer’s playbook. Instead, he takes more of a focus on delivering results for constituents while working with those he often battles. One of those efforts — supported by Langworthy — included efforts this year to successfully maintain the 1,500-hour pilot training requirement that was spurred by the 2009 crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo.

One other notable moment of Schumer’s cooperative spirit occurred Wednesday. Merely moments after Mitch McConnell’s announcement he will be stepping down in November as the longest-serving U.S. Senate leader in history for almost two decades, the senator from New York was one of the first to applaud, greet and congratulate McConnell for his dedication.

It was a heart-warming moment and a sign of respect. Something that is all too often missing in this new era of politics.

— — —

Our newsroom is losing an important piece today. Eric Tichy, who has been a highly respected area journalist for more than a decade, is taking his talents elsewhere.

A dedicated newsman, he’s covered a number of individuals, events and significant moments that have happened throughout Chautauqua County. He promises to stay in touch in the future, filing a story or two a month.

That’s great news for us — and you, the reader.

John D’Agostino is the editor of The Post-Journal, OBSERVER and Times Observer in Warren, Pa. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 716-487-1111, ext. 253.


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