Size Of Chautauqua County Legislature Should Be Decided By Voters

It makes sense why legislative Democrats want to decrease the number of Chautauqua County legislators.

With Republicans holding a 15-4 majority on the county legislature, Democrats are looking to increase their voice in the county’s legislative body. Winning elections — particularly in rural areas — has been difficult for Democrats. Their other avenue is to look to decrease the number of seats on the legislature and, in so doing, decrease the number of Republicans on the legislature.

That said, the idea still deserves some discussion. It’s been 10 years since the last legislative downsizing from 25 to 19 members. That downsizing was a reflection both of a desire to decrease the cost of government and the fact the county’s population was mired in an inexorable decline. That population decline isn’t changing.

We should acknowledge the political reasoning for the downsizing proposal and then have a serious public discussion about its non-political merits. Could it reduce costs, even minimally? Would shrinking the legislature have a major impact on county residents?

In our opinion, this discussion belongs in the hands of county residents. After all, it is taxpayers who pay for the Chautauqua County Legislature. It is taxpayers to whom the Chautauqua County Legislature is ultimately responsible. And it is taxpayers who will need to take their issues to their legislator whether there are 17 legislators or 19 legislators.

Not everyone will like legislator Susan Parker’s idea to shrink the Chautauqua County Legislature. But everyone should appreciate Parker’s desire to let the public decide.


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