The 57th State Senate District Democratic Committee has endorsed former Chautauqua County Legislator Nancy Gay Bargar to face Assemblywoman Catharine M. Young, a Republican from Olean, in the May 10 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of State Sen. Patricia McGee.
The committee members -- Lisa Feinberg-Duckett of Allegany County, Dan McCandless of Cattaraugus County and Keith Ahlstrom of Chautauqua County -- made the decision at a noon meeting Thursday in Olean. A Livingston County Democratic Party representative was not present at the meeting.
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Bargar said she will appear today in all four counties and publicly announce her plans.
Bargar's schedule calls for her to be at the Chautauqua Lake Rest Area on Interstate 86 between Jamestown and Bemus Point at 9:30 a.m., in the Gazebo at Ellicottville Town Hall at 1 p.m. and in Moonwinks Restaurant in Cuba at 3 p.m. Arrangements for a Livingston County location were being made late Thursday.
In 1992, Bargar narrowly lost to then-State Sen. Jess J. Present, R-Bemus Point. His unexpected death in 1998 paved the way for McGee to win the seat, which she held for seven years.
"In 1992, she ran (against Present) on a platform that things were quite bad and dysfunctional in Albany. She's running now on the same platform -- 12 to 13 years later -- and things are even worse in Albany than they were then," said Ahlstrom, chairman of the Chautauqua County Legislature.
He recalled Bargar's five consecutive victories in her Lakewood-Busti county legislative district where registered Republicans enjoy 2-to-1 majority over Democrats, and her time as the Democrat's majority leader in the County Legislature.
Bargar has been out of political office for four years, but according to her supporters she has devoted time to community causes and remains active in the real estate and property management business.
Young was on a whirlwind tour of the district Thursday. In Jamestown, her first stop, a large crowd of supporters came out to greet her at the Ironstone Restaurant.
John Glenzer, chairman of the Chautauqua County Republican Party, described McGee as "Young's mentor. She has served as her model, and I would have to say this: Cathy is a good learner, and she will be a great senator."
"It is critical to continue my work to preserve and improve our unique quality of life throughout the Southern Tier," Young told the crowd. "We've begun to make progress on issues facing our area, but much remains to be done."
Noting the special election is May 10, she said, "It's going to be a very busy time . . . I'll be traveling across the district, visiting the communities, listening to what's on people's minds."
Elected to the Assembly in 1998, Young swiftly rose to a top leadership post, serving as assistant minority leader pro tempore. During her tenure, she backed tax cuts, economic growth, job creation and government reform.