Jester Attempts To Unseat Higgins in County 8th District Race

Republican Frank Higgins

In the race for the Cattaraugus County 8th District Legislator seat, incumbent Republican Frank Higgins points to his passion for the community while Democrat Adam Jester touts his experience in local politics.

Although Higgins is the incumbent, he has only served on the legislature since mid-August when he was appointed to replace Matthew Keller, who resigned from his seat. The winner of Tuesday’s race will fill the remaining three years on Keller’s term.

Jester served for two years on the Olean Common Council from 2014 to 2015, serving as Council President during his last year. He decided not to seek re-election to help form the Olean Business Development Corporation last year. Jester said that with the corporation solidly off the ground, he can turn his attention back to politics.

Sign Up for E-News

“Now I can shift my focus to the fact that I really miss the public service aspect,” Jester said. “I miss the work, I miss the people and I miss the chance to taking a fresh look at some outdated things.”

In the private sector, Jester has worked for the Cutco Corporation in Olean in various roles for over 15 years. He was elected Council President at a time when the Council had a Republican majority,but he says he was able to accomplish most of the goals he set forward. He is most proud of his work in the revitalization project for downtown Olean, as well as the building of a new Homer Street Park in North Olean.

Higgins has volunteered much of his time to community foundations and organizations. Higgins is on the Board of Directors at the Olean City School District and the Olean General Hospital Foundation. He also chairs a committee that distributes thousands of dollars to local organizations each year, including the SPCA and children’s centers.

Higgins said that he was asked to interview for the legislature position over the summer, and despite having no prior experience in elevted office, was selected. He has already been part of several major votes with the legislature.

“In terms of legislation, the thing I am most proud of is raising the age you can purchase tobacco to 21 years old in Cattaraugus County,” Higgins said. “All of the research shows that the brain is still developing until 21 so if we can delay or even stop people from picking up a pack of cigarettes and saving one family from the tragedy of emphysema, cancer or heart disease by not picking up the habit. If we can stop one person, it was well worth my vote.”

The new law went into effect Nov 1., banning all tobacco sales in Cattaraugus County to anyone under the age of 21.

District 8 covers the City of Olean, and both candidates agree that the communication between the city and the county needs to improve. Jester knows this first-hand.

“There are some things that we worked on at the city-level that we really could have used some great partnership from the county,” he said. And not that we didn’t get the partnership from our currently elected legislators, it is just that it would have been more productive if we would have been able to meet more often and have each other to have each other be more in tune with each other’s issues. Basically to have that mutual understanding of each other’s agendas and situations and challenges. That was one of the things that slowed us down in some of our neighborhood initiatives.”

Higgins agreed with that assessment, but also said that communication needs to extend to Olean residents. If Higgins is elected, his goal is to clean up neighborhood blight and to hold landlords accountable for keeping their properties up to a certain standard.

“We want people to come into this area and when buildings and houses are run down it’s tough to do,” Higgins said.

Along those same lines, he wants to expand the Cattaraugus County Land Bank, which invests in vacant and abandoned properties.

Another major issue for Higgins is to keep the two nursing homes in Machias and Olean under county control. He said that the two nursing homes employ around 275 people, and are positive to the community.

“I have seen the passion from the employees,” Higgins said. “Each and every one of the I’ve talked to love their job. I know numerous people who are in those nursing homes and the care is fantastic. And then I hear the stories from the privatized nursing homes and the care just isn’t as good.”

Jester and Higgins both said that they have been friends for a long time and would not be taking any negative shots at each other during the campaign. They want to focus on the issues that are most important to them and their experience--but nothing personal.

“You’re voting to hire someone into a very important job that is going to be paid for with your tax dollars,” Jester said. “The most common ways to hire someone is to look at their résumé, what qualifications they have for the job and what they would like to do with the job. I would encourage everyone to do that, not only in this race but other races as well. It doesn’t always have to be about politics, and what box you checked for your political affiliation when you were 18.”

The candidates were asked the top reason voters should mark their names on the ballot next Tuesday.

“I am doing it for the right reasons,” Jester said. “I care, I have dedicated my life this. I have dedicated my life to giving back to the area and I have nothing but good intentions on what I’m there for. I love giving back and that’s what I’m there for.”

“For me it comes down to experience and the ability to do the job on day one,” Higgins said. “Being able to get involved and get positive results for all of the taxpayers on day one. That experience I think does go a long way.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Grandpa Practiced Sustainability

My grandpa was of the Depression Era. Sustainability wasn’t “a thing” back then — it was just the way you lived. Though he was raised in a time when you were thankful to be able to put a good meal on the table, he likely had a standard of life that we would consider average or middle class today. He didn’t grow up in a slum or shanty town, but he did understand the ...

'March for Our Lives' Started A Historic Movement

Shoes on the ground. People chanting. Signs held high. Music playing in the background.

It is the start of a historic movement. A moment when every race, gender and age came together as one. A movement that involved change and a March for Our Lives.

As a student journalist going out to the world, taking part in a national movement truly moved me. Reporting the significance of March for ...

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Two Joes Scholarship Fund to preserve legacy of community businessmen

May 25, 2018

For many, a memorial scholarship is a living way to continue the memory of a loved one.

For Hank Certo and Louis “Ledgie” DeRose, the Two Joes Scholarship Fund is a way to remember two people who left a huge impact not only on both them, but also the entire community.

Certo and DeRose recently established the Two Joes Scholarship Fund in the name of community-minded businessmen ...

Golf “Fore” Heroes Fund supports Wounded warriors through golf

When he takes to the course on July 7, CJ Mackey will do so with a smile, but he will also know that there is a whole lot more to the day than birdies and bogies.

As a member of the Golf “Fore” Heroes Tournament committee, Mackey has been a part of organizing the annual tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which has now raised over $17,000 since 2016.

This ...

William D. and Catherine Griffin Fraser Fund established at CRCF

Nothing can replace the kind of love that persists and flourishes for 43 years, but William Fraser has found a way to preserve the name and memory of his late wife, Catherine Griffin Fraser.

Fraser recently established the William D. and Catherine Griffin Fraser Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation to make possible an annual scholarship and grants to the Olean General Hospital ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...