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Interesting Decision Faces Voters In Three Towns

Voters in the Chautauqua, Sherman and Mina areas face an interesting decision when choosing their representative on the Chautauqua County Legislature.

Bill Ward is endorsed by both the Democratic, Republican, Independence, Working Families and Libertarian parties. Martin Proctor, Ward’s opponent, was appointed to the legislature after the death of former Republican legislator David Himelein. After losing out on endorsements through the primary process, Proctor started his own party, the Cornerstone Party, in order to run for the position.

Both candidates are in favor of current county policies regarding Chautauqua Lake, with Ward stressing the importance of finishing a sewer district around the lake and Proctor saying this is a good time to refine the county’s existing strategy for Chautauqua Lake. Proctor views population loss as the biggest issue facing both his district and the county while saying he wants to strengthen the county’s agricultural and tourism sectors to stem the population loss. Ward wants to have a voice in farmers’ rights and issues, the health of county waterways, tourism, industry, business health, waning population and changing the political party caucus system. Both candidates support expanding broadband internet access, with Proctor championing the county’s work through Southern Tier West to bring broadband to 4,000 area residents. Ward wants to examine public-private partnerships to set up broadband dishes on state-owned communication towers, 911 towers, radio station towers and even possibly tall barns or farm silos.

Proctor deserves credit for some of the issues he has raised during committee meetings during his short tenure on the legislature. Proctor has questioned why Findley Lake was not on a list of boat steward sites in the county; has asked good, pointed questions regarding proposals to restore air service to the Chautauqua County Airport in Jamestown; and regarding proposed collection of occupancy taxes on seasonal rentals, an issue that affects tourist areas within the district. It says something about Proctor’s motives that he is working so hard to stay in the legislature — many would have simply packed it in after not receiving endorsements through the typical political process.

Ward has raised good issues during an elongated campaign season this year — so good, in fact, that his name will appear on five lines on the ballot on Nov. 5. Proctor gives the district’s voters a worthy option as well.

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