Ted Bennett, a fixture on the Chemung County Legislature for 40 years, won't be running for re-election this year, and a candidate - Marty Chalk - has emerged for his seat.
Ted Bennett, a fixture on the Chemung County Legislature for 40 years, won’t be running for re-election this year, and a candidate - Marty Chalk - has emerged for his seat.
Bennett, a Democrat, represents the 10th District, which covers the west side of Elmira. He was first elected in November 1974, and has served as the Legislature’s minority leader since 1995.
“It’s the end of an era, it really is,” said Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli. “To get people to serve in those type of positions for four decades is pretty much unheard of today.”
Santulli called Bennett a “terrific legislator.”
“He always looked at everything and voted his conscience. He never let politics get in the way of a vote,” Santulli said. “He looked at an issue and voted on its merits, and that’s why he been there 40 years. That’s why he’s respected by both Democrats and Republicans.”
“It was a great run,” Santulli added. “He retires with some real accomplishments.”
If Bennett has a signature issue, it is improving the area’s transportation.
He was instrumental in getting the Clemens Center Parkway built in downtown Elmira, and helped get State Route 17 converted to Interstate 86 through Steuben and Chemung counties in his role as chairman of the I-86 Coalition.
Bennett remains chairman of the coalition and has lobbied hard in recent years to expedite the completion of I-86, which will eventually stretch from Erie, Pa., to I-87 in the Hudson Valley.
Bennett has also been involved with the Elmira/Chemung Transportation Council, the Route 15 Coalition, the Appalachian Thruway Association, and the New York State Association of Counties’ Transportation Committee.
Chalk, who announced his plans Thursday to run for Bennett’s seat on the Chemung County Legislature, is a Republican and a lifelong Elmira resident.
Chalk thanked Bennett for his service to Elmira and Chemung County, and says he also plans to put politics on the backburner if elected.
“We need to work together across party lines and with other municipalities,” Chalk said. “I believe voters are very tired of the divisiveness that permeates our country.”
Chalk currently serves as president of the Elmira Water Board, the Chemung County Sports Hall of Fame, and the Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp.
“My work overseeing the Water Board’s budget is not unlike the county budgeting process,” he said. “Dealing with diminishing revenues while still producing quality services is not easy but can be done successfully. I welcome the challenge of working on the county Legislature to reduce the tax burden on county homeowners and businesses while maintaining a high level of service.”
Earlier this week, Richard Madl, a Republican from Southport who represents the 13th District on the Chemung County Legislature, announced he will seek a third term.