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Some members of the South Chautauqua County Democratic Committee are resigning after Loren Kent was not cleared by the state Supreme Court to become the next Democratic Elections Commissioner.

The OBSERVER and the Post-Journal received five e-mail resignation letters for six people that were originally sent to Norm Green, Democratic chairman of Chautauqua County. Green was previously the Democratic Elections Commissioner before retiring and is now running for the county executive. He pleaded for the appointment of his former assistant, Luz Torres, to this post. She is currently the Interim Democratic Elections Commissioner.

The people who have resigned are Katie Smith, Patrick and Karen Gustafson, Phyllis Caloren and Kristina Benson, all of the Ellery Democratic Committee and David Menzies of the Busti / Lakewood Democratic Committee. Menzies had also been a candidate for treasurer of the County Democratic Committee.

In Menzies’ letter, he states that he feels he can no longer do the work of a committee member. “As a longtime Democrat, I have been prepared to devote my time, knocking on doors, collecting signatures and promoting local candidates for local offices. I am no longer prepared to do this. I am on the side of those who believe that the current system in which very few people control all the decision-making of the Democrats in our riding is unacceptable. I look forward to the day when the CCDC (Chautauqua County Democratic Committee) will be a democratic institution, but that is not the case now ”. he wrote.

Smith also targeted the leadership of the County Democratic Committee. “I cannot continue to support an organization that tolerates bad behavior, corruption and bullying. The lack of transparency and the exclusion of individuals further strengthen my position. There is no indication that a change is coming, there is no point in reaching out to strengthen the party and little to no effort is being made to unite the Democratic Party in Chautauqua County. Current leaders appear determined to stay the course – refusing to acknowledge the demands and concerns of committee members. Democrats who care about their own integrity have little recourse – we are forced to step away from the party and focus on candidates we can support ”. she wrote.

Patrick and Karen Gustafson have expressed disappointment that Kent will not be the next Elections Commissioner. “We believe that the candidate who was more dedicated and who had the most knowledge and experience was deceived mainly because of the weighted votes for the other candidate. We believe that because of this, membership of the committee is useless ”. they wrote.

Caloren expressed his dissatisfaction with Green and the weighted voting system. “Because weighted voting has been deliberately corrupted, militarized, and used by facilitators to advance the highly questionable agenda from a manipulative and dishonest chair, I can no longer see my name associated and dishonored by this morally and professionally tainted organization. , “ she wrote.

Benson also criticized the party leadership. “I cannot be a party to the corruption, the lack of transparency and the representative failures of this committee. Since there is no indication that the leadership has any plans to adjust its continually losing course, even in the face of massive outcry from committee members, the conscience committee members have no choice but to leave and to engage our efforts with individual applicants and community efforts, “ she wrote.

Kent, who is a member of the executive committee and served as secretary for almost 20 years, said he was saddened by those who are stepping down.

“When I see a resignation, I’m always sorry to see those resignations happen. Whether or not I agree with someone on the committee, it is important to have diversity within the committee ”, he said in a telephone interview. “It’s a failure of leadership and I too am a member of leadership. We have to work harder to come to an agreement on the committee to bring the committee together.

One of the elements cited by those who resign is the “Weighted vote” system, where votes from more populated areas are worth more than votes from more rural areas. “People don’t understand that our weighted voting system has always existed”, he said.

But due to the pandemic, the local committees and the county committee were unable to meet, so there was no discussion among the members as in the past.

Green was accused of placing members on local committees in communities where they did not live, but where they had a vacancy. Kent alleges that Green abused his authority in this way for the benefit of himself.

Asked about the resignations, Green issued the following statement:

“From my days in the military, I have followed General Patton’s words: ‘Lead, follow or step aside’. I understand that those who cannot follow my leadership are now choosing to step down. The majority of the committee voted to support the recommendation to the legislature of the Acting Elections Commissioner, Luz Torres. I think the majority made the right choice in recommending who our very first Hispanic county government department head would be. “ he said.

Green can make his wish for Torres come true. On Wednesday’s agenda for the county legislature, which was released on Friday, is a resolution to appoint Torres as election commissioner. The State Supreme Court recently ruled that the county legislature cannot select its own candidate; instead, he must nominate or expel the candidates provided by the County Democratic Committee.

Even though six members of the Democratic County Committee have resigned, there are still many in place. According to Kent, there are 194 seats in total in the county with around 40 vacant positions. Rural towns have 116 seats, the city of Jamestown has 38 seats, the city of Dunkirk has 24 seats and Pomfret has 16 seats.

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