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Committee Endorses Wendel To Fill County Executive Seat

MAYVILLE — A recommendation has been made to fill the vacant county executive position.

On Thursday, the Chautauqua County Republican Committee met to make its recommendation to fill the open position, with Chautauqua County legislators PJ Wendel, Chautauqua County Legislature chairman, and Mark Odell, R-Brocton, being the only candidates. Following the committee’s meeting, which was closed to the public, Wendel, R-Lakewood, told The Post-Journal he was the committee’s recommendation.

“I’m very humbled to receive the support,” he said. “It’s going to be a big change in my life.”

The Chautauqua County Legislature will now vote on the committee’s recommendation, which could be as early as its next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 18. Wendel said he will let the Republican Caucus decide when they will move forward with its recommendation to the legislature.

Wendel was first elected to the county Legislature in 2012. He has been chairman of the legislature for the past two years. He previously chaired the legislature Public Safety Committee. He has also been a member of the Administrative Services and Audit and Control committees.

“I”m ready to dig my feet in and get a feel for what is going on,” he said. “It’s a great legislature to work with. There is no nonsense.”

As for Wendel’s replacement as legislator, he said the process will include the town of Busti and city of Jamestown Republican committees making a recommendation. Once a recommendation has been made for the District 10 seat, the legislature will then vote on the candidate.

“Now that it’s official, I’m going to start reaching out and sitting down with potential candidates,” Wendel said.

Odell has been a legislator for four years, serving as the Planning and Economic Development Committee chairman. He was re-elected in November, running unopposed, to continue representing District 7, which includes the towns of Stockton, Portland, Chautauqua and the villages of Cassadaga and Brocton.

The position of county executive became vacant after George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, won the special election last month to fill the vacant 57th State Senate District seat.

In August, the county Legislature passed a local law detailing how a vacancy in the county executive office should be filled. The appointment to be the next county executive will be a member of the same political party. Borrello is a Republican so the next county executive also needed to be a member of the GOP.

County Attorney Stephen Abdella will continue to serve as the acting county executive until a new county executive is confirmed by the county Legislature. If approved by the legislature, Wendel will serve until a new county executive is chosen by county voters during the 2020 general election to fill the remaining year of Borrello’s unexpired term in 2021.

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