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Green Resigns As County Democratic Party Chairman

Norm Green

The longtime head of the Chautauqua County Democratic Party is stepping down.

Norm Green has sent a letter to the county Democratic Executive Committee saying that Friday will be his last day in his current position. “Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas is aware of my retirement and as the vice chair of our party county committee, is prepared to take over his duties as acting Chautauqua County Committee chair, while remaining first vice chair,” he said in his letter.

Green has been with the county Democratic Party for more than 20 years, serving in a variety of roles. He was elected chairman in 2012.

Last year Green ran unsuccessfully for county executive. In his letter to the committee, Green said he didn’t necessarily want to be county executive, but felt it was important for the party that he run. “…we needed a candidate and even though it wasn’t in my personal plans, my party was again calling me to do a job and I answered the call. During my tenure as party chair, I alone successfully recruited Ron Johnson, Mike Ferguson and Rich Morrisroe. I was damned if I was going to leave the Democratic line go dark in 2021,” he said.

All three candidates lost to their Republican counterpart.

Green highlighted the election of state Supreme Court Justice Grace Hanlon, a Chautauqua County resident who took office Jan. 1. She’s the first state Supreme Court Justice from Chautauqua County in more than 30 years. Green worked with Chuck DeAngelo to get her cross-endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties. “With Grace Hanlon’s total commitment to doing the work needed, we navigated the stacked political system and did what no one said was possible by the swearing in of Chautauqua County’s own resident justice. I was humbled by the accolades delivered before a room full of Hanlon family, friends, friends of the court and sitting judges that recognized my decades of successful work to deliver a resident justice to our own county,” he said in his letter.

Over the last couple of years, Green clashed with the county legislature’s minority caucus. Along with serving as the county committee chairman, Green was the Democratic Election Commissioner. When Green announced he was retiring from his position as election commissioner, he sought to have Luz Torres take that position. She had been his deputy for several years, but the minority caucus instead wanted to have Loren Kent take the position. Kent had been the long-time secretary for the county committee. The issue went to court and eventually Torres won the seat.

“The Chautauqua County Democratic Committee successfully defended its majority choice and recommendation of Luz Torres in NY Supreme Court. The law of New York State was followed. It was certainly a low point having internal fighting, but truth and the law matters and Luz is doing a great job,” Green said.

Since that fallout, Legislator Chuck Nazzaro of Jamestown, who served as the minority leader, has retired. Bob Bankoski of Dunkirk has taken his place. “The elevation of Bob Bankoski to minority leader hopefully will bring a return of the loyal opposition in county government. I wish him well,” Green said.

At the December legislature meeting Nazzaro described himself as “pretty bi-partisan and non-political,” a statement that Green criticized. “This of course is a virtue that is in direct conflict with being the paid Democratic political leader in our county body. We will never be successful in candidate search if recruited candidates see no reason to serve and never view elected legislators without Democratic values. (The Republicans in Mayville show their values every day and we should too),” he wrote.

Green added that the “Republicans in Mayville successfully persuaded our few Democratic legislators with the message that once elected they serve the whole county. Such ideology lead to the abandonment of one’s own district in favor of expanded rural services at the expense of populated villages, larger towns and our cities.”

Green recognizes that not everyone has supported him as chairman but thanks those who helped him during his tenure. “I know that some will praise me, and some will want to bury me. I thank the majority of the party committee who have supported me my work as party leader. My work has now come to an end and it’s time for me to find new ways to support the Democratic Party. Please continue to send me invites for your events and I will continue to support those of the majority who supported my leadership,” he wrote.

When reached by text, Green declined to comment further, saying he had nothing to add outside his resignation letter.

Rosas, meanwhile, said he is ready to step up and lead the party through October. “I’m going to stay until the fall when we have normal elections and a more permanent chair will be brought into play. … I do not have any intention on running for the position,” he said.

Rosas praised Green for his leadership over the last decade. “He’s very connected. Norm is very well respected all over the country,” he said.

Rosas said he hopes to help bring the party forward during his interim appointment. “I want to regenerate our county party. I want us to focus on unity, trust and progress,” he said.

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