JAMESTOWN – After coming under fire from some Jamestown City Council members for not renewing their participation as a polling site in elections, National Comedy Center officials are calling for a meeting to discuss the matter face-to-face.
In a statement, Executive Director of National Comedy Center, Journey Gunderson, says the NCC had been advised they could not legally be a polling site because they have a liquor license.
She says the group would consider restoring its standing as a polling site upon receiving verification that it is not illegal.
“The National Comedy Center is willing to continue as a polling site, even with significant disruption to our business operations and safety protocols, if state authorities can confirm that this is legal. We received an advisory opinion last week directly from the State Board of Elections that this is legally prohibited because we have a liquor license,” Gunderson said.
“Since the train station concourse remains fully accessible to the public five days a week, year-round (seven days a week prior to COVID-19), we believe that we are operating in accordance with all agreements in regard to public access. However, we are happy to request clarity from appropriate authorities in order to affirm that this is in full compliance,” she furthered.
“I have asked for the opportunity to meet with the City Council to directly address these issues at its next session on February 8 in the interest of resolving this matter amicably and equitably for all parties.”
Several councilmembers voiced displeasure regarding the decision, which calls for the Chautauqua County Board of Elections to look for a different location for the City’s Ward III voting site.
City Councilman At-Large Jeff Russell was one of the outspoken members on the issue.
Russell says that the National Comedy Center is doing a disservice to the City of Jamestown and its taxpayers.
“I say this to the people that run the Comedy Center,” Russell said. “If you want to be successful, then you need to be good stewards to the City of Jamestown. And by kicking this polling station out of there, for whatever reason you’re doing it, you’re not being good stewards of this City. There’s taxpayers of this City that have poured money into that building prior to taking it over, and now you’re telling those people that they are not good enough to come to that building and be able to utilize that rotunda, which legal language says they have the legal right to do so.”