Nineteen members of the Chautauqua County Legislature were sworn in on Monday.
During the Legislature Organizing Meeting, Surrogate Court Judge Stephen Cass was sworn in. Among those sworn in were four new lawmakers, Susan Parker, D-Fredonia; Martin Proctor, R-Findley Lake; Billy Torres, D-Jamestown; and David Wilfong, R-Jamestown. Parker, Torres and Wilfong all won competitive races in November, while Torres ran unopposed for the seat previously held by Chuck Nazzaro, who decided not to run. Additionally, Johnathan Penhollow, R-Stockton has been reappointed to District 7 headquarters. Penhollow was appointed last summer to fill the seat previously held by Mark Odell. Odell resigned after moving to Florida, but it was too late to remove his name from the ballot or add Penhollow to it. Penhollow’s appointment is for the remainder of 2022. If he wishes to remain in office in 2023, he will need to be elected in November for a one-year term.
Lawmaker Pierre Chagnon, R-Bemus Point, was again chosen as president of the legislature. Chagnon has held this position since January 2020.
Changes have been made to majority and minority rulers. Thomas Harmon, R-Silver Creek was appointed Majority Leader and Lisa Vanstrom, R-West Ellicott, was appointed Deputy Majority Leader. Last year Jay Gould was the Majority Leader and Vanstrom was the Assistant.
Last year Nazzaro was the leader of the minority and Bankoski was the assistant.
Olivia (née Ames) Lee of Cassadaga has been unanimously appointed Clerk of the Legislative Assembly with an annual salary of $ 45,000. Lee had served as Deputy Registrar under former Clerk Katherine Tampio of Silver Creek.
Tampio had been Clerk of the Legislative Assembly for nine and a half years, but said she was partially retiring, moving to a part-time position. She was recognized by County Executive PJ Wendel and President Chagnon.
“Your contributions to the life and citizens of Chautauqua County are greatly appreciated”, Wendel said, making a proclamation.
Chagnon also praised Tampio’s work. In praise, he noted how during the COVID-19 pandemic, she helped shift the legislature to virtual meetings and then return in person. “Throughout her incredible and exemplary service over the past nine years, Kathy has worked tirelessly to serve the residents of Chautauqua County,” he said.
Tampio thanked the elected leaders for their kind words. “I really appreciate the legislature. Regardless of your party affiliation, you all work together to solve problems and get things done. It really is a wonderful experience ”, she said.
In another vote, Kristi Zink of Cassadaga was named secretary of the legislature at a salary of $ 18.46. She was also appointed Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly at an annual salary of $ 4,000.
Lawmakers Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan and Wilfong voted against his nomination. Neither person has explained why they oppose Zink’s appointment. There was a 15 minute delay in the middle of the
meeting for Republican caucus members, although it’s unclear if that’s what they were discussing. When Niebel was approached after the meeting, he declined to say why he voted no.
Nathaniel L. Barone was unanimously reappointed as Public Advocate with an annual salary of $ 86,126 with an additional salary supplement of $ 62,625 to the extent of available grant funds received from the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services.
The OBSERVER and the Post-Journal were designated as the official county journals.