Follow Up To Fall 2021 Greater Western New York Town Hall Meeting
Cattaraugus County Legislators Lead Panel Discussion and Answer Questions From Their Peers
Sponsored by more than a half dozen independent community newspapers, this informational session turned into a workshop as area county legislators asked how they can duplicate what Cattaraugus County did.
Greater Western New York— November 17, 2021 — On the evening of August 25, 2021, the Cattaraugus County Legislature voted unanimously to pass its Constitutionals County Resolution that concluded with these words: “RESOLVED, that the Cattaraugus County Legislature hereby declares Cattaraugus County, New York, a Constitutional County, unwavering in their commitment to protect Constitutional rights.”
Since then, the county has received national media coverage and the elected officials and citizens behind the effort have been inundated with calls from our counties and municipalities both in and outside the state asking, “Can we do this, too?”
On Tuesday evening, November 16, the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, hosted an informational session for interested elected officials that featured a panel composed of several Cattaraugus Count legislators. The event that was co-sponsored by nearly a dozen newspapers in the Western New York District of the New York Press Association, including the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Sentinel, the Akron Bugle, the Alfred Sun, The Batavian, Neighbor-to-Neighbor newspapers (including the Arcade Herald, the East Aurora Advertiser, the Springville Journal, Warsaw’s Country Courier, and the Franklinville Mercury-Gazette), and the Johnson Newspaper Corp’s western New York papers (The Daily News and the Livingston County News).
“That resolution we put it through our committee process where all legislators had a chance to have input into it, and that was kind of our story as to how it got passed,” began Ginger D. Schroder, who represents the Legislative District 3 in Cattaraugus County. Also attending from Cattaraugus County were Andy Burr, and Rich Helmich.
“I even met with the lone democratic Member of our legislature to see what kind of input he might have because I really thought it would have been great in my mind if we unanimously supported the resolution, that it was a bipartisan type effort,” says Schroder. “He had one suggestion to add to it and I didn’t have a problem with that, so we added it. Then, the appointed day came, August 25th, and Brenda Hansen and a whole bunch of her people showed up, it was really quite a patriotic thing to see and we passed the resolution unanimously.”
Hansen, a community volunteer who initially introduced the concept to Schroder also attended the informational meeting to give the other elected representatives a sense of the process from the point of view of a citizen.
In total six other counties attended the meeting, including Allegany, Monroe, Oswego, Schuyler, Steuben, and Wyoming. In all, more than a dozen people were on the Zoom call.
Among the several questions were:
- Why did Cattaraugus County choose to adopt a resolution instead of passing a law? “The process for passing a law is far more complicated, time-consuming, and would involve a lot more public opinion,” says Schroder.
- Since the Resolution empowers the legislature to take legal action on constitutional grounds, who makes the determination to proceed? “We have a forum where we have the Chairman of the legislature, the Vice-Chairman, the Majority Leader, and a couple of other folks in leadership and with the input of the county attorney. We look at the cost. We look at the benefit. We look at some legal research by our county attorney. We don’t want to go out and burn $100,000 on something we’re not going to win, so we look at the cost, we look at the benefit and we look at what our ability is to be able to make a meaningful statement.”
- Should towns and villages go ahead and adopt their own Constitutional Resolution or would they feel they’re covered because the County has already adopted one? “I didn’t ask that question. I have four towns I go through a lot and I have no person, not one single person who didn’t say that they were proud of us what we did and hope that more people could do it. Then, when I got exhilarating phone calls from out of state, I was dumbfounded. It was just amazing how far-reaching this thing went and the praise that we had the audacity and guts to stand up to Albany.”
The session closed with a round-robin discussion from each of the counties represented indicating what they felt their next steps should be.