JAMESTOWN – Officials with the National Comedy Center are addressing concerns that the center isn’t “welcoming” to all Jamestown residents amid scrutiny over a voting site change.
At the Jamestown City Council Work Session last week, multiple councilmembers expressed concern from their constituents on the issue.
Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson, however, refutes that notion. Gunderson spoke for nearly an hour at the Council Work Session Monday evening debunking various notions that the center isn’t “inclusive” to all, especially as the future of the Ward III polling site location remains unknown.
“The residents of Ward III, or any Ward in our City, coming through our doors has never been a problem or concern,” Gunderson said. “That’s never been the source of hardship. We welcome them on voting days or throughout the year. In fact, we sincerely want our neighbors to visit the National Comedy Center throughout the year.”
Gunderson explains that the organization provides a variety of free and discounted events throughout the year in an effort to attract those who may have difficulties affording a general admittance.
Gunderson’s comments come after the Chautauqua County Board of Elections informed the Jamestown City Council that the National Comedy Center informed them that they would no longer rent space for polling sites.
The Director details how the Comedy Center made a decision upon learning from New York State officials that there is a legal statute prohibiting a polling site from being held at a place that holds a liquor license. Gunderson says, however, that the Comedy Center is awaiting word as to whether there are legal methods to bypass the statute on the day of an election, such as ceasing the sale of alcohol on the day of the election.
“We are willing to host polling as long as we can clarify, per an official statement from the State Board of Elections, that it is legal to do so,” Gunderson said.
Gunderson, in addition, says that other issues, including differences between Chautauqua County Board of Elections and National Comedy Center health and safety protocol, needs to be addressed as the entities continue discussions going forward.
The comments from Gunderson were made prior to the introduction of the standing committee resolutions for the Work Session.