Greg Edwards, Chautauqua County Executive for two terms, was recently greeted by the Westfield/Mayville Rotary Club members who found out a bit about the wheels that make the county go 'round.
A former Rotarian, Edwards was introduced by club member Ann Weidman, who asked him, "What was it really like to be a county executive?" His answer covered a few of the ups and downs, beginning with the 'ups.'
"I enjoyed all eight years," he said about his two four-year terms, 2005 and 2009. One aspect of life at the top brought a smile to his face as he relayed part of his chores - some that he met quite often. Example: "You park at church and when you get out of the car, people are waiting to talk to you."
Greg Edwards answered Rotarian Ann Weidman’s question, “What was it really like to be a county executive?” when he visited the Westfield/Mayville Rotary Club. He now is CEO of the Gebbie Foundation in Jamestown.
Perhaps the longest - and most difficult - undertaking Edwards faced was the County Home sale. For 2 1/2 years, he attempted to convince the legislators that the Home was contributing to increases in the people's county tax and it should be sold. He remembers those 2 1/2 years as "a draining experience." As fate would have it, his effort was accomplished after he left his executive position, however he wished his successor, Vine Horrigan, all the best.
Born and raised in Panama, following high school, he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science at Allegheny College in 1982, worked for two years after that and then attended University of Toledo (Ohio) Law School.
Returning to Chautauqua County in 1987, he was a private practice attorney for 18 years and was recruited to run for county executive in 2005 - and you know the rest of the story.
During his second term, he was recruited to run for a New York state position. "I won two primaries to become the Republican and Conservative candidate for lieutenant governor, running first with Rick Lazio and then, when he was beat by Carl Paladino, with Carl, who eventually lost to Andrew Cuomo." Recalling those times, he notes, "It was interesting running for lieutenant governor and I learned a great deal about the state."
Near the end of his second term, he was hired by the Gebbie Foundation Board of Directors to become its CEO, which he accepted and today enthusiastically leads that organization.
Edwards is proud to say that during his terms in office, more was given to the county's veterans, he did his best early on with "a top-notch team" and taxes were reduced during his tenure. This is not the easiest chore to be accomplished. As he said, "A busy government isn't a business, but business can be applied."
He also believes that "north" and "south" in the county must combine. "They have the same challenges whether it's schools, town/village boards and many other activities the same."
Although Edwards enjoyed his terms in office, he now is savoring a new experience and liking it. Especially the time he now has for his wife and three children. The Edwards family lives in Busti. His children, who were quite young during "Dad's" executive years, also see more of him.