MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Democratic Committee may find itself with a new chairman. The committee will hold its reorganizational meeting Saturday morning in Mayville.
Several names have been mentioned as potential candidates for the chairman position, including current leader Keith Ahlstrom. The Dunkirk resident and current legislator has led the committee for the last decade.
"Our meeting is this Saturday in Mayville, and until that time I am the chairman," Ahlstrom told The Post-Journal. "And we'll see what happens. I really haven't made up my mind."
He added: "It's a possibility I will run again. We'll see who runs and what my chances are."
Two-year term positions up for election include party chairman, first vice chairman, second vice chairman, secretary and treasurer.
Don Williams, the Dunkirk Democratic Committee secretary, also has expressed interest in the committee chairman position. Williams alluded to a "pretty clear divide" in the committee, which he said came to light after Ahlstrom this summer endorsed Leslie Danks Burke for the 23rd Congressional District seat.
The county Democratic committee, meanwhile, endorsed Nate Shinagawa - who soundly defeated Danks Burke in June's primary election. Shinagawa faces incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, for the Southern Tier congressional seat, which includes Chautauqua County for the first time in 10 years.
"I just think it's time for a change at the county level," Williams said. "I think we need someone that will bring the committee together as a whole."
Williams said he has no personal agenda running for the chairman position, and noted he has "no plans" to run for political office.
"I guess the key reason I'm running is that we need new leadership that will stand together," he said. "Instead of a committee against itself, I'd like to bring it together and make it as positive as possible in the same direction."
Ahlstrom declined to comment when asked of a divide within the committee.
Norman Green, county Democratic election commissioner, also has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the chairman position.
"I wouldn't rule myself out. No," Green said when pressed on a possible run. "What I will say is I have always been committed to what is in the best interest of Democratic voters in Chautauqua County."
In other positions, Janet Jankowski confirmed she does not plan to seek another term as second vice chairman, noting it was time to "move forward" and give someone else a chance to serve. Jankowski, however, said she plans to remain involved with the Dunkirk Democratic Committee where she has served since 1994.
Loren Kent, county Democratic Committee secretary, said he plans to run for re-election.