ARTICLE I—GENERAL PROVISIONS
ARTICLE II—MEMBERSHIP IN THE COUNTY COMMITTEE
ARTICLE III—ORGANIZATION AND OTHER MEETINGS
ARTICLE V—EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
ARTICLE VII—MUNICIPAL COMMITTEES
ARTICLE VIII—DESIGNATION AND NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
ARTICLE IX—APPLICATION OF RULES, AMENDMENTS, AND REPEALS
ARTICLE I—GENERAL PROVISIONS
SECTION 1. PURPOSE.
The County Committee of the Democratic Party of the County of Chautauqua, New York (County Committee) shall represent the enrolled members of the Democratic Party in Chautauqua County and shall be the central organization of the party in the County. It shall at all times promote the interests of the Democratic Party and its doctrines, with harmony and efficiency. It shall aid and assist and advise in the selection of able Democratic candidates for office and shall aid in their election in every lawful manner. In addition, the County Committee shall aim to broaden citizen understanding of the principles of the Democratic Party and their application to the conduct of government, to stimulate citizen participation in political and governmental activity, to insure the common good and to encourage high standards of competence and ethics in political practice and public office.
SECTION 2. POWERS AND DUTIES.
The County Committee is constituted as provided by law for the administration of the affairs of the Democratic Party in Chautauqua County and shall exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred upon it by law or by these Rules, as a whole when in session, and by such other committees in the interim between sessions, as may be hereinafter provided.
ARTICLE II—MEMBERSHIP IN THE COUNTY COMMITTEE
SECTION 1. QUALIFICATION OF MEMBERS.
The County Committee shall consist of at least 198 members with at least two elected Democratic Party members allocated to each election district in the county. Members will serve as the elected representatives of Democratic voters in their election district and direct liaison between the party and the voters. Additional members shall be allocated to election districts within Towns/Town Wards or City Wards and the County Committee based upon the proportional votes determined by:
1. The last vote for Governor on the Democratic line;
2. The last vote for Assembly on the Democratic line; or
3. The Democratic Party registration in an election district as determined as of February 21 of the year representatives are being Elected.
Except when the number of election districts and the allocation of at least two members to election districts within Towns/Town Wards or City Wards do not coincide, the number of members allocated to election districts within Towns/Town Wards or City Wards and the County Committee shall not exceed the number of representatives set out in Table I below. In the event of the above exception, the number of election districts and allocation of at least two members per election district shall override the number of representatives set out and increase the number of committee members.
Once proportionality is calculated, the allocation of members shall continue through the committee’s term unless proportionality is redetermined during a term. If proportionality is redetermined during a term, members of affected Towns/Town Wards or City Wards shall be reallocated by the Executive Committee. However, committee members cannot be moved from the Towns/Town Wards or City Wards that they represent without their permission and shall not be moved from the Town or City where they are members.
SECTION 2. TERMS OF MEMBERS.
The members of the County Committee shall be elected biennially in each even numbered year and shall hold office for a period of two (2) years. Except in the case of filling vacancies, the term of each member shall commence with the Committee’s organizational meeting and end with the next succeeding biennial organizational meeting.
SECTION 3. MEMBER CONTACT INFORMATION.
It is the responsibility of each Town and City Chair to provide to the Secretary, in a manner and in a form prescribed, each Town or City Committee member’s name, address, telephone number(s), email and the member’s preferred form of receiving communications from the County Committee in order to assure that the Secretary has current and correct contact information for each member. Such information must be provided within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this amendment to these Rules and must thereafter be verified annually on a date prescribed by the Secretary. Each Town and City Chair must, in addition, provide updated information to the Secretary immediately upon the Town or City Chair becoming aware of a change in the contact information of an individual member. The Town or City Chair must also provide this information when nominating a candidate to fill a vacancy on the County Committee.
SECTION 4. FILLING VACANCIES.
In case of death, disqualification, declination, removal from area or removal from office of a member of the County Committee or failure to elect a member by reason of a tie vote or otherwise, the vacancy in said County Committee caused thereby, shall be filled by the remaining members of the County Committee as provided by Article 2 of the New York State Election Law. Such vacancies that may exist or occur while the County Committee is not in session shall be filled by a standing Committee on Vacancies, composed of County Committee Chair, First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer who were elected at the preceding Organizational Meeting of the County Committee. The said standing Committee on Vacancies shall have and possess all the powers of the County Committee to fill vacancies when the County Committee is not in session. All filling of vacancies shall be reported to the County Committee Secretary within three business days of any meeting. For the purposes of this Section, a vacancy for any Town and City may be filled by the County Committee and or the Committee on Vacancies by an enrolled member of the Democratic Party residing within the County who does not otherwise reside within the Town or City where the vacancy exists. The vacancy may be filled in this manner for so long as necessary during any biennial term.
SECTION 5. REMOVAL.
Pursuant to Section 2-116 of the New York State Election Law, a member of the County Committee may be removed by the County Committee for disloyalty to the party or corruption in office.
The following shall be the procedure for removal:
1. Any County Committee member (the “Complainant”) may submit to the Ethics Committee (privately and without any public release or announcement with respect thereto) a written complaint (a “Complaint”) alleging a specific cause for the proposed removal of a member or officer (the “Respondent”).
2. The Ethics Committee may independently initiate a Complaint alleging a specific cause for proposed removal of a member or officer (the “Respondent”).
3. Upon receipt or initiation of a Complaint, the Ethics Committee shall promptly give the Respondent a copy thereof.
4. Within 15 days of receipt of the copy of such Complaint, the Respondent may submit a written response to the Ethics Committee. Promptly thereafter (and in no case later than 30 days after the conclusion of such 15-day period), the Ethics Committee may, in its discretion, dismiss the Complaint, issue a reprimand or admonition to the Respondent or schedule a hearing on the merits of the Complaint, except that if the Respondent, in their response, requests that a hearing be held, then the Ethics Committee shall schedule such a hearing. The Ethics Committee shall dismiss and take action to discourage unfounded or frivolous Complaints.
5. If a hearing is to be held, then, at least 15 days prior to the date scheduled by the Ethics Committee, the Complainant, if any, and Respondent shall each be notified of the time, date and place of such hearing.
6. Hearings shall be private, unless the Respondent requests otherwise, but all reprimands, admonitions, penalties and other determinations adverse to the Respondent shall be made public by the Ethics Committee.
7. In conducting a hearing, the Ethics Committee may request written or oral testimony. The Respondent may present written or oral testimony on their behalf and will be entitled to have counsel present at such hearing.
8. All members of the Ethics Committee shall be present at any hearing
9. A majority vote of all the members of the Ethics Committee shall be required to make any determination with respect to a Respondent, including determinations made as a result of a hearing.
10. Following the determination of the Ethics Committee, the Respondent may, within 30 days of such determination, appeal such determination to the full County Committee or, at the Respondent’s election, to the Executive Committee. In the case of an appeal before the full Committee, the procedures for the proceedings as it relates to a trial and the removal from position, will be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order in accordance with Article IX of these Rules.
ARTICLE III—ORGANIZATION AND OTHER MEETINGS SECTION 1. ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING.
The County Committee shall meet and organize no earlier than September seventeenth and no later than October sixth following the June primary. Until such organization meeting, the existing County Committee shall exercise all legal authority. Upon the conclusion of such organizational meeting, the new County Committee shall assume all legal authority vested in the previously organized County Committee. The Secretary shall call the meeting to order. A quorum shall be ascertained by the presiding officer based upon members signing in and presenting proxies as provided herein. In addition to electing a County Chair, they shall also elect officers as specified in Article IV.
SECTION 2. ORDER OF BUSINESS.
The following shall be the order of business at the organizational meeting and other meetings of the County Committee:
• Call to order
• Pledge of Allegiance
• Election of officers (at organizational meeting)
• Reading and adoption of minutes of previous meeting
• Treasurer’s report
• Report of Committees
• Unfinished business
• New business
• Filling of vacancies in the County Committee
Other business may be placed on any agenda in advance by direction of the County Chair or by majority vote of the Executive Committee or by written petition signed by at least (5) County Committee members submitted to the County Chair at least (15) days prior to the date of such meeting. The County Committee shall accept e-mail or facsimile signatures on any written request to place an item or resolution on the agenda. Other matters for discussion may be raised by any member under new business in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order by Motion and Second and with the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present and or represented.
SECTION 3. MEETING CALL AND NOTICE.
There shall be at least two (2) County Committee meetings per year, one of which can be the organizational meeting as required in these rules. The calendar for the meetings of the County Committee for the next year shall be established at a regularly scheduled meeting, occurring in the 4th Quarter of the prior year. One of the two yearly meetings shall be called by the Chair, in accordance with this Section, to take place within seven days prior to or following the first day to sign designating petitions for state and federal candidate and party positions. The locations of the meetings of the County Committee shall be geographically rotated within the County or held in the County Seat to mitigate the burden of travel for any one segment of the membership. All meetings, as may be called, shall be held on the call of the County Chair at such time and place and for such purpose as may be fixed by the Chair upon written notice e-mailed to, or mailed if a member so requests, to the last known address of each member of the County Committee at least ten (10) days prior to the time such meeting is called. A meeting of the County Committee also shall be called upon written petition signed by a majority of the voting members of the Executive Committee or by at least twenty per cent (20%) of the members of the County Committee, submitted to the County Chair. Such special meetings shall be called at least fourteen (14) days after receipt of such written petition, which shall state the purpose or purposes of the meeting. No other matter may be placed before the County Committee at such special meeting except at the request of the Chair.
SECTION 4. QUORUM.
At any meeting duly called, fifteen members of the County Committee, and five members of the Executive Committee shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting the business of such meeting.
SECTION 5. VOTING POWER (WEIGHTED VOTES) AND BALLOTING.
Each member of the County Committee shall have one vote plus one vote for each one hundred votes cast for the Democratic Party Candidate for Governor or for each 75 votes cast for the Democratic Party Candidate for Assembly or for each 50 registered Democrats consistent with the allocation of members to election districts provided in Article II on all questions submitted. The vote of the County Committee may be ascertained by any method designated by the Chair at the time the question is presented, except that upon the demand of any member, the vote in question must be ascertained by roll call.
SECTION 6. PROXY VOTING.
No person shall act in place or represent any member of the County Committee as their proxy, unless such person files with the secretary of the County Committee at or before the meeting thereof a written and witnessed designation of said person by name as such proxy at such meeting.
The person so designated shall be an enrolled member of the Democratic Committee residing in the Town or City that includes the election district represented by said member. No person shall vote to exceed nine proxies. Such proxy shall designate a specific meeting for which it was given and shall be valid for no other meeting.
Proxies may be used for the conduct of business at meetings called for Town and City Committees.
SECTION 7. FLOOR PRIVILEGES.
Speaking privileges are reserved for officers and members of the County Committee and the Executive Committee. However, members of the public, upon invitation of the County Chair, may also be given such privileges.
SECTION 8. OPEN MEETINGS.
All County Committee meetings are open to all registered Democrats, except those executive sessions called by the County Committee are restricted to County Committee members.
ARTICLE IV—OFFICERS SECTION
1. ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
The officers of the County Committee shall be a Chair, First Vice Chair, Second Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, all of whom shall be enrolled members of the Democratic Party. Respecting the Chair, First Vice Chair, and the Second Vice Chair, at least one shall be a resident of a town or city in the north of the County and at least one shall be a resident of a town or city in the south of the County. For the purposes of this provision, the north of the County includes the Towns of Ripley, Westfield, Chautauqua, Stockton, Portland, Charlotte, Cherry Creek, Arkwright, Villenova, Pomfret, Dunkirk, Sheridan, Hanover, the City of Dunkirk, and any villages within these towns. The south of the County shall be all other towns, villages within the towns, and the City of Jamestown. Additionally, at least two of the five officers shall be of another gender relative to the other officers.
The Secretary shall within three days after the meeting file with the New York State Board of Elections and the Chautauqua County Board of Elections, a certificate stating the names, legal address and post office address (if different) of each officer elected.
Procedure for election of officers:
1. Nomination of candidates for office. Nominations must be received by the Secretary no later than fifteen (15) days in advance of the organizational meeting at which the election of officers will be held. Such nominations must be in a form prescribed by the County Committee and include the signature of the member of the County Committee making the motion to nominate and supported by a second to the motion signed by another member of the County Committee. Such form may be returned to the Secretary in writing or via email.
2. A full list of the candidates, the office sought, the name of the member moving the nomination and the second shall be distributed by the Chair of the County Committee to all members of the County Committee no later than ten (10) days in advance of the organizational meeting at which the election of officers will be held.
3. The Secretary shall preside at the meeting prior to election of a Chair. Ballots will be cast for the offices in the following order:
• First Vice Chair
• Second Vice Chair
4. Prior to the casting of ballots, the candidate for each office shall be granted two (2) minutes to speak in support of their nomination. The candidate may yield their entire time or any time remaining after speaking to the nominator or any other County Committee member.
5. If there is more than one for an office, voting shall be conducted by secret ballot, the votes counted by two Committee members selected by the Secretary prior to the call to order and the results announced prior to voting on the next office.
SECTION 2. DUTIES OF OFFICERS.
The County Chair shall preside at all meetings of the County Committee and shall be an ex- officio member of all committees. The First Vice Chair shall preside at meetings in the absence of the Chair and the Second Vice Chair shall preside in the absence of the Chair and the First Vice Chair; each also shall perform duties reasonably requested of them by the County Chair and shall serve as members of the Executive Committee.
The County Chair shall appoint, with the approval of the Executive Committee, all members of all committees unless otherwise provided in these Rules and shall designate their chairs. The County Chair shall serve as chair of any and all committees where no other chair has been designated or where such committee chair is unavailable. The Secretary shall keep complete and accurate minutes of all proceedings of the County Committee and the Executive Committee, shall prepare a roll of all members with their postal and e-mail addresses and their telephone numbers, shall notify the members of the time and place of meetings of the County Committee and Executive Committee, and shall call the role at meetings and announce the presence or absence of a quorum. The Secretary shall be responsible for all filings with the Board of Elections or other legal entities as required by the New York State Election Law except as otherwise provide in this Section. In addition, the Secretary shall perform such duties pertaining to their her or his office as may be assigned by the County Chair.
The Treasurer shall be the fiscal officer of the County Committee and a member of the Finance Committee. The Treasurer shall receive and hold in trust all funds of the County Committee; keep a correct account thereof; pay all bills that have been approved by the County Chair or the Executive Committee; render at least the two periodic financial reports required by the New York State Election Law, and such other reports during the year as the County Chair shall request; and shall comply, on behalf of the County Committee, with all financial filing requirements of the State Board of Elections and as otherwise may be required by law. The Treasurer shall comply with the financial policies and procedures as recommended by the Finance Committee and approved by the Committee and or Executive Committee and incorporated by reference herein.
SECTION 3. VACANCIES.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of County Chair, the First Vice Chair shall immediately become County Chair and shall exercise all the powers and perform the duties of the County Chair until a new County Chair is elected at the next organizational meeting of the County Committee. In the event of a vacancy in the offices of County Chair and First Vice Chair, the Second Vice Chair shall immediately become County Chair. In the event the Second Vice Chair cannot serve or the office is vacant, the Secretary shall immediately become the County Chair and shall exercise the powers and perform the duties of the office of County Chair until a new County Chair is elected at a special meeting of the County Committee held within 90 days after the vacancy in the office of the County Chair shall have occurred, unless the next organizational meeting is scheduled within 90 days of the vacancy, in which case the next organizational meeting will result in newly elected officers.
A vacancy in any other office of the County Committee as set forth in section 1 of this Article shall be filled for the remainder of the term by the County Chair with the advice and consent of the majority of those in attendance at a full County Committee meeting within 90 days after such vacancy shall have occurred.
ARTICLE V—EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
There shall be an Executive Committee consisting of the Chairs of the respective Town or City Committees designated by a majority vote of the members of the County Committee representing each of the election districts of a Town or City. Such designations are to be made within thirty days, or as soon thereafter as practical, following the County Committee’s Organizational Meeting held in even numbered years and reported to the Secretary of the County Committee. In the event of failure to designate as provided herein, the Chair of the County Committee may fill such vacancy by designating any duly enrolled member of the Democratic Party residing in such Town or City or the County Chair may instead designate any duly enrolled member of the Democratic Party in Chautauqua County to fill any Town or City Chair vacancy. Such member so designated need not be a resident of the Town or City where the vacancy exists if in the opinion of the County Chair the interests of the Democratic Party would be better served by such action. Members so appointed, however, shall have ex-officio status and shall serve only until such Town or City organizes. All filling of Executive Committee positions shall be reported to the County Committee Secretary within three business days of any meeting.
Except as provided herein, all designated members of the Executive Committee shall have one vote for each one hundred votes or major fraction thereof cast in their respective Town or City for the Democratic Candidate for Governor in the last preceding election, on all questions presented at any meeting.
When certifications are received from the Towns and Cities and existing vacancies are filled, the Secretary of the County Committee shall call a meeting of the Executive Committee forthwith. A notice of such meeting shall be e-mailed to, or mailed if a member so requests, to each member at least five business days before the date of said meeting and the notice shall clearly indicate the time and place of such meeting. The County Chair shall be the presiding officer of the Executive Committee and shall designate such officers of standing, ad hoc, and or special committees as may be deemed appropriate and desirable to promote the welfare of the Democratic Party. The Chair of each such committee shall make a progress report to the Executive Committee at each meeting.
The Executive Committee shall meet at a time and place designated at the previous meeting, or by call of the County Chair.
At any meeting duly called, five or more members of the Executive Committee and at least three of five officers shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting the business of such meeting.
The Executive Committee shall have and possess all the powers of the County Committee when the County Committee is not in session.
SECTION 1. FINANCE COMMITTEE.
There shall be a Finance Committee consisting of a minimum of three (3) members, one of whom shall be the Treasurer. All other members must be members of the County Committee. This committee shall assist the Treasurer in preparing an annual budget and in revising and updating the budget as necessary; shall review the annual financial report; and perform such other appropriate duties as shall be requested by the County Chair.
SECTION 2. ETHICS COMMITTEE.
There shall be an Ethics Committee consisting of a minimum of five (5) members, each of whom shall be an enrolled member of the Democratic Party. At least three of the members of this committee shall be members of the County Committee, at least one of whom shall be an officer of the County Committee. The committee members shall serve terms contemporaneous with the members of the County Committee.
SECTION 3. COMMITTEE ON VACANCIES.
There shall be a Committee on Vacancies. This Committee shall be comprised pursuant to Article II, Section 4 and function pursuant to such Article and Section.
SECTION 4. OTHER COMMITTEES.
The County Chair may from time to time appoint such other special or ad hoc committees as he or she may deem desirable or necessary.
SECTION 5. MEMBERS.
Members of the committees established pursuant to this Article shall be appointed by the County Chair with the approval of the County Committee, that is at an Organizational Meeting and or the Executive Committee, unless otherwise provided in these Rules, and shall serve at the pleasure of the County Chair, except that the terms of appointment shall be contemporaneous with the term of the County Committee. Except as provided for the Finance Committee, a member of any committee created in this article need not be a member of the County Committee but shall be an enrolled Democrat.
SECTION 6. ELECTRONIC MEETINGS.
Meetings of the standing, ad hoc or special committees, at the discretion of that committee’s chair, may allow for meetings to take place electronically (either through teleconference or video conference).
ARTICLE VII—MUNICIPAL COMMITTEES
SECTION 1. TOWN AND CITY COMMITTEES.
There shall be a Town and City Committee within each Town and City in Chautauqua County comprised of the members of the County Committee which shall be the central organization within the Democratic Party for that town or city. It shall conduct campaigns and caucuses in such town or city and shall discharge the duties imposed by law and by the Rules and Regulations of the Democratic Party. The Town and City Chair shall be responsible for the activities of the County Committee persons not only in a town, but also in those villages included within a township. However, in towns where the Town Chair is not a resident of a village included within said town, the Town Chair may designate one or more of the Town Committee persons resident in the village to actively promote Democratic candidates for village office and to coordinate village Democratic activities with those supervised by the Town Chair. Any member of the Town and City Committee may be removed for cause as provided for in the New York State Election Law and by Article II Section 5 of these Rules.
SECTION 2. ORGANIZATION AND ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
Within thirty (30) after the County Committee’s Organization Meeting, or as soon thereafter as practical, the Town and City Chair then in office shall call a meeting of the Town and City Committee for the purpose of electing from among its membership a Chair and such other officers as may be provided for by the rules of the Town or City Committee. The Chair and other officers need not be members of the County Committee, but each shall be an enrolled Democrat who shall have a primary residence within the Town and City. The Town and City Chair shall call all other meetings of the Town or City Committee as often as she or he deems necessary.
However, there shall be at least one (1) meeting of each Town and City Committee each year, which meeting may be held electronically (either through teleconference or video conference). All Town and City Committees are authorized to adopt such bylaws or other rules and regulations as they may desire, subject to the provisions of the New York State Election Law of the State of New York and to the Rules and Regulations of the County Committee. All such bylaws, rules or regulations must be submitted to the Secretary of the County Committee and shall not conflict with these Rules. All Town or City Committees shall either adopt their own bylaws or shall be subject to the terms and conditions of these Rules.
SECTION 3. TOWN AND CITY CANVASS.
It shall be the duty of each Town and City Committee to cause at least one get out the vote (GOTV) activity to include but not be limited to a canvass to be made of all the electors resident within its limits prior to and within thirty (30) days of any caucus or election. Each Town and City Committee shall encourage and aid in the enrollment and registration of Democratic voters in the town or city and in each election district therein. The Town and City Committee shall exercise vigilance in preventing illegal registration and voting, campaign activities such as stealing or defacing opposition campaign materials, or any other activity that reflects negatively on the Town and City, County, State or National Democratic Committees, promptly reporting to a duly constituted authority any and all violations of laws pertaining thereto.
ARTICLE VIII—DESIGNATION AND NOMINATION OF CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
The designation and nomination of candidates for public office shall be made pursuant to Article 6 of the New York State Election Law. Consistent with such Law, the Executive Committee shall at all times when the County Committee is not actually in session, have such powers and possess and exercise all the rights, privileges, powers and duties, not inconsistent with these rules, including but not limited to the power to nominate candidates for election to fill vacancies for public offices pursuant to Sections 6-114, 6-116, and 6-148 of the New York State Election Law.
ARTICLE IX—APPLICATION OF RULES, AMENDMENTS, AND REPEALS
Amendments to Rules. The rules and regulations of the committee may be amended only by a majority vote of all members of the committee after a copy of the proposed amendment and proper notice of the meeting at which it will be presented has been mailed or emailed to each member. Such notice shall be given at least five days before the date specified for the meeting and shall be e-mailed to, or mailed if a member so requests, to the last known address of each member of the County Committee. The most current revised edition of Robert’s Rules of Order shall be followed on all matters pertaining to parliamentary procedure and interpretation of the Bylaws not otherwise provided herein. Only in those cases where a provision of the Bylaws is ambiguous and cannot be interpreted based on the intent of the organization at the time they were adopted, a majority vote of the full Committee at a regular or special meeting shall decide the question.
If any clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section, rule, or part of these Rules shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair, or invalidate the remainder thereof but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, subdivision, section, rule, or part thereof, directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment was rendered.
Repeal of Previous Rules. The rules and regulations heretofore passed and existing for government of the Democratic Party and inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed and shall be null and void.
Adopted and made Effective by the Chautauqua County Democratic Committee at the October 1, 2022 Organizational Meeting
ARTICLE I—GENERAL PROVISIONS