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MAYVILLE – A Dewittville native and Chautauqua County Executive candidate is challenging incumbent P.J. Wendel’s plan in disbursing $24 million that the county will receive as part of the American Rescue Act. from the federal government.
WNY News Now spoke with Norm Green, former Chautauqua County Democratic Election Commissioner, Thursday afternoon following a release from his campaign that called Wendel’s plan “unimaginative, boring and will do little to boost our county economy.” The candidate expanded on his comments during an interview, saying that the county needs to think bigger.
“We’re at the beginning, I get that, but we should be going with big ideas, some big plans,” Green said. “But instead, the County Executive is obviously bureaucracy building. The plans that he has, whether it’d be water and sewer, which gee, why would we want water and sewer? Of course we do, but we have a funding mechanism in place. All we would be doing is usurping the funding mechanism that comes down from the state and federal level for the water and sewer programs.”
Wendel responded to Green’s critique during a separate interview with WNY News Now Thursday. The Republican says that, although he doesn’t understand what he’s referencing as “boring,” he won’t let them deter the ultimate goal he has as the County’s top official.
“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, as well as my opponent. If you look at our track record, not really sure what is boring and unimaginative,” Wendel said. “What we are focusing on is the issues. I’m going to continue to do that as I did from day one of our administration and I’m going to continue to do all the way through.”
Green debated several of Wendel’s ideas throughout the release and subsequent interview, one of which involves Wendel’s goal to provide investment towards internal department.
“He’s trying to build a bigger and better government,” Green explained. “I see he talks about internal department investment. That’s bureaucracy building. That’s government building. That’s making government bigger, and that’s not exactly what we need to have strong economic outcomes in Chautauqua County.”
Wendel, however, refuted Green’s claims, saying that the goal is to help improve the financial strength of county departments after he said several department leaders have reached out to him with incremental requests.
“We are looking at these small incremental requests that will be able to boost the departments and the efforts of our county as a whole,” Wendel said. “No, it’s not increasing the bureaucracy. What we are doing is focusing on each department individually, but using a pot of money that would focus on internal investment within our departments.”
Green says that, if elected, he’d have specific areas in which he’d like to allocate the money.
“Chautauqua Lake has been a constant funding concern,” Green said. “City of Dunkirk Harbor…One of the ideas I have is the Road of Laughter, leading from the New York State Thruway to the National Comedy Center.”
Green furthers that the county should invest in creating and improving bike paths and other forms of recreational areas in the area in an effort to increase tourism.
WNY News Now will continue to follow the 2021 Chautauqua County Executive Race as it continues to develop.
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