JAMESTOWN – A former representative in both city and county government is looking to get back into the political arena, but he’ll have to defeat a local businessman in order to do so.
Among the contested races for the Chautauqua County Legislature is the race for District 12, which is an open seat that covers the northeastern side of the city of Jamestown. The race will feature local attorney and Democrat Fred Larson against local businessman and Republican William Prieto.
During last week’s League of Women Voters’ meet the candidates forum, both Larson and Prieto were present and offered their thoughts on why they felt they’d be the best choice for residents in District 12.
When asked about the most serious issue facing Chautauqua County today, Larson said that contrary to popular belief, it isn’t whether or not to sell the Chautauqua County Home (although he went on record saying that if it can be proven that it is operating with a true deficit, he would be in favor of selling it). Instead, Larson said the main issue is a lack of jobs.
“The number one issue in this county is the lack of jobs. It’s not whether we sell the county home or not. If it’s sold tomorrow, what’s that mean to the 7,000 people that haven’t been working in this county the past seven years?” he asked. “It is an important issue within county government, but its not an important issue for whether or not your children and your grand children can find a living wage here in Chautauqua County and a decent job to stay here. The lack of these jobs has repercussions all over the place. If we don’t have enough people working, they can’t buy homes and they can’t spend money.”
Prieto agreed with Larson. But he said that what’s missing from the county legislature is the ability to tie various issues and concerns together, in order to have a multifaceted approach to economic development.
“I think it’s economic development as a whole. I think jobs are part of that, Chautauqua lake is part of that, Brownfield development is part of that and StartUp NY is part of that,” Prieto said. “It’s a comprehensive plan and we have to look at it in a comprehensive way. That’s what everybody is missing. They’re attacking these problems in a small format and we need to look at it in the big picture.”
Larson is a former city councilman and county legislator. He also served as the county’s attorney during Mark Thomas’s run as county executive and currently sits on the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. Prieto is a veteran of the U.S. army who previously owned his own business in Jamestown. He currently works as a Senior Digital Media Strategist for Hearst Media.