As County Executive Greg Edwards' second four-year term winds down, candidates Vince Horrigan and Ron Johnson are excited for the potential opportunity to fill his shoes.
Horrigan, a Republican and Chautauqua County legislator, has used his military experience and former 10-year term as executive director of the Chautauqua County American Red Cross to support his candidacy.
"My life has been one of service in senior leadership. I am confident that I have the right leadership skills at the right time with a vision to return our county to a growing community with strong families and good jobs," Horrigan said.
Johnson, a Democrat, has been Pomfret town justice for 16 years and is a retired Chautauqua County deputy sheriff.
Born in Arkwright, Johnson is the owner and operator of Johnson Adult Homes and said he is running for county executive because he was "tired of seeing the same old politics that we've been seeing from county government." He added, "I made the decision to run because of how poorly our county has been run for the last seven years."
Both candidates have expressed eagerness to bring jobs to Chautauqua County.
"The answer is jobs. We need more of them," Johnson said. "I pledge that if more people are not working by my third year in office I will not seek re-election. I have made it my primary goal to get the people of this county back to work and I stake my political career on accomplishing that goal."
Johnson spoke to Jamestown Kiwanis members on Oct. 24 and said, "When it comes to job creation and retention, we cannot afford a passive approach. We must be better prepared for job creation and economic development."
He said his first approach will require innovative leadership at the county Industrial Development Agency. Secondly, "we will begin an immediate analysis of all potential economic development sites in Chautauqua County" and determine what work each site may require.
"We need to know where our business-ready sites are located, and what condition they are in."
Third, he said, "We will work with our local, state and federal partners to foster job creation ideas and actions."
Horrigan said, "The point is effective job readiness," and cited Chautauqua Works for expanding work experience. "This is a time for optimism. We need to build on what we have and focus on existing businesses."
"We have many businesses in our county that are selling extremely high-quality products but high property taxes are inhibiting expansion," Horrigan said after touring several Falconer companies to discuss ideas for growing jobs in Chautauqua County.
"After my discussions with these business leaders, I am further assured of the need to support infrastructure investment, expand our workforce development and to keep property taxes low. I see a great future for Chautauqua County and I want to see it reach its highest potential."
CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY HOME
Horrigan and Johnson have opposing views when it comes to the County Home.
Johnson's standpoint is, "Our County Home has never been a financial burden on the taxpayers in its history except for the past seven years. The history of having a county home here in Chautauqua has been a great asset. To lose such an asset in the future would be a shame."
He is optimistic that the nursing home will break even in the future, and said he will work to make it profitable again.
Horrigan, on the other hand, has voted in favor of the privitization of the Dunkirk facility as a legislator.
"As county executive I will lead and work hard with our public, private and not-for-profit leaders to achieve the ultimate goal of access to care and job retention," Horrigan said.
Horrigan also pledges to find a solution to keep Lake Shore Hospital open and operating.
"We owe it to those that built and support this community hospital, to the citizens of the Silver Creek and Hanover area, and to the employees, to be proactive and look for new solutions to our challenges," he said.
If Johnson cannot reverse the county's job losses, he has pledged not to seek re-election.
"If I can't do it, and I believe strongly I will, I will yield to someone else with the sincere hope that he or she can do what I could not," he said. "I chose to run for county executive because I understand how to bring jobs back to the community and work with private industries to put more people back to work."
Horrigan said, "We need to build on what we have and focus on existing businesses. A huge opportunity is before us. We need a strong, effective leader."
He wants to "return our county to a growing community and year-round destination attracting businesses, visitors and investors to support good jobs and thriving families."
He said his number one priority is implementing a three point plan to keep taxes down, continue efforts to privatize the county home and welfare to work initiatives.
"It all works together. That's how we're going to grow this county and increase the number of taxpayers, not taxes," Horrigan said.