Since Fred Larson stepped down from the Chautauqua County Legislature, his District 12 title has been sought by two nominees and temporarily filled by one.
Now, another contender has stepped up to run against the current district representative, Beth Kresge, D-Jamestown.
Lifelong Jamestown resident Elisabeth Rankin officially announced she will run against Kresge in the Nov. 4 general election to represent the district, which covers portions of Jamestown, north of East Second Street and east of North Main Street.
Rankin, an Arlington Avenue resident, currently works as district director for Assemblyman Andy Goodell, where she focuses on constituent services.
"As a County Legislator, I will be able to provide a full range of services for local residents, whether their issues involve county government or state government," Rankin said. "I am also very pleased to be part of an effective team with the staff of (state) Sen. Cathy Young, Congressman Tom Reed, County Executive Vince Horrigan and Assemblyman Goodell. All of us work extremely well together as a team to help local residents."
Kresge is no stranger to constituent services, and said she gained political experience as a liaison for former Congressman Jack Quinn, the Republican representative for most of Buffalo and Erie County from 1993-2005. She also worked for former Congressman Amory Houghton, an upstate Republican also in office from 1993-2005.
Although Kresge is a Democrat, she said both Houghton and Quinn were very moderate Republicans.
"I was doing constituent work and because I wasn't working in a political capacity, it didn't matter to them, as long as I could help the constituents," Kresge said. "It gave me a good idea of the problems the people that live here are facing with social security, disability and veterans services. I think I have a good idea of some of the issues people are facing. Obviously, Rankin does as well, so she'll have a state perspective, but I do think it was great experience."
Rankin's focuses include lowering county property taxes, improving the economy and improving services for seniors and veterans.
"I am also looking forward to providing great constituent services for all the northside residents who need to interact with county government," she said.
Kresge's priorities include economic development and housing issues.
"I know there are jobs here, but not necessarily jobs that people can raise a family on," she said. "I'd like to reduce spending where appropriate and reduce property taxes as well."
In terms of housing issues, she said there are too many rundown, vacant properties that need to be addressed.
"Some of the conditions people are living in in rental properties are not too good either," she said. "The drug activity is a little disconcerting too, even in neighborhoods where you would think it didn't have a presence."
Rankin also said improving education and safe neighborhoods are critical for the welfare of youth in Chautauqua County.
"With our beautiful environment, friendly people, and great work ethic, we should be able to grow and prosper. We need to have a better business environment to make that job growth a reality," Rankin said.
Rankin is on the board of directors for Creche for Kids, is an active member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and sings with Chautauqua Chamber Singers.
Kresge has been active in the community through the Lakeview Avenue Community Action Project and Hands-On Jamestown.
She recently accepted a position as office manager for the city's Department of Development.
"I'm going to see firsthand more of the issues that we're dealing with here," she said.
Kresge will hold the District 12 seat until the general election on Nov. 4. She and Rankin are also challengers for the Independence Party primary election on Sept. 9.