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Endorsement: Wendel Is Right Choice For County Executive

The race for Chautauqua County executive pits two familiar faces — incumbent PJ Wendel and Norm Green, longtime Chautauqua County Democratic election commissioner and chairman of the county Democratic Party — against each other.

It seems Wendel has spent as much time campaigning for the position as he has actually served in it after winning election to serve the rest of former executive George Borrello’s term. In addition to seeking the office twice in two years, he had the COVID-19 pandemic thrust upon him early in his tenure.

Some may see his term as simply a continuation of the Vince Horrigan and Borrello administrations, but Wendel has not been in alignment with Borrello on issues that include Chautauqua Lake and is taking new and bolder steps in dealing with opioids than Horrigan.

Green, on the other hand, has been aggressive since announcing his bid and is quick to point out contrasts between he and Wendel’s approach to items such as mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for county workers, handling spending county stimulus funding and the number of new additional employees included in this year’s county budget.

Both, we note, are capable candidates with differing strengths. Green would place greater public emphasis on mergers, consolidations and shared services — an area we agree needs more public discussion and leadership.

On two of the biggest issues, however, Wendel showed true depth of understanding rather than resorting to platitudes — workforce development and the opioid problem. Green is no slouch on the opioid problem, but Wendel pointed to eight definitive actions that he and the county are pursuing to stem the addiction issues plaguing residents. As for workforce development, Green’s ideas are workable but likely to have little impact. Wendel showed an understanding of the workforce training issues and noted he is making the appropriate partnerships to begin to help companies find trained workers in areas where the county is short.

As we said, both candidates are capable. But we endorse Wendel. He has earned four years to put his ideas into action.

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