JAMESTOWN – Chautauqua County’s new county executive says he’s been very busy getting acclimated to his new position during his first couple weeks in office. Vince Horrigan of Bemus Point tells WRFA that since taking over as county executive on January 1, he’s been working with his department heads, elected officials and community groups to prioritize his agenda for his first year in office.
Horrigan has also had an opportunity to meet with representatives of organized labor, a group that mostly supported his opponent, democrat Ron Johnson, during the 2013 Election. He says its important to talk with those groups to get a better understanding of their needs and concerns as they relate to the future of the county.
“So often we windup with maybe adversarial relationships between labor and management, but I’m taking more of a view of ‘what can we do to work together?'” Horrigan explains. “I will say the number one theme that kept coming together was this ‘Working Together’ theme. It has to do with everything from the challenges we have with drugs in our community; the challenges we have from those who are disenfranchised or unemployable; and it has to do with economic development and being inclusive of those that have ideas that maybe felt they didn’t have a seat at the table for whatever reason.”
Horrigan also says that effort actually got underway in the days following his victory in November, when he assembled a community task force to help him identify the most pressing issues for the county. He says the developed into a five-point plan that included economic development, job retention, job training and marketing the county as a year-round attraction.
FUTURE OF COUNTY HOME
As for priorities, Horrigan says he obviously will continue where his predecessor, Greg Edwards, left off in finding a buyer for the Chautauqua County Home in Dunkirk. He says that its likely a proposal to buy the home will once again come before the legislature before the end of 2014.
“Whatever I put forward to the legislature, I want to be confident in my heart and in my judgement that this is in the best interest of the residents, the employees, and the entire county,” Horrigan says. “I want to be very comfortable with that before I put any [offer] forward because there is a lot at stake. It’s controversial for many because people are very passionate and very involved with this. So I have to be very careful with this very important issue.”
In 2013, a proposal was put forward to sell the county home to the legislature on three separate occasions. Each time it failed by a very slim margin of the 25-member legislative body. This year, the legislature has been downsized to 19 members and many ran on a platform of selling the county home. Thirteen votes will be needed by the legislature in order to give approval for any sale.
Horrigan made his comments during a recent interview with WRFA. We’ll feature that interview in its entirety Thursday night during our Community Matters program, which begins at 6 p.m. A replay of the program will also take place Sunday, Jan. 19 at Noon.