09 Nov

Chemung County introduces and the Town of Elmira finalizes 2019 budgets


Yesterday Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli invited the media, sitting legislators and the public to a presentation where he unveiled the county’s proposed 2019 budget. The proposed budget can be found here.

In general, the budget and accompanying letter from Santulli paint a mixed picture for Chemung County. The budget calls for the 14th straight year without a tax increase — ostensibly a good thing — but does not seem to include ways to help many of the struggling municipalities, most notably the City of Elmira.

With respect to sales tax allocation, Santulli’s letter sets forth the county’s perspective of (more…)

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05 Nov

IMPORTANT: Money available to Chemung County homeowners impacted by summer flood


Image: WETM

Chemung County residents who suffered damage to their homes due to flooding that occurred from August 13-15 are eligible for grants worth up to $50,000.

According to a US News and World Report article published on Saturday, the grant money comes from federal sources and is being administered by New York state.

The application to apply for a grant is located here. Applications will be accepted from today through February 4, 2019.

Potential applicants should direct all questions to Arbor Housing and Development at (607) 654-7487 x 2049 or by email at

I can always be contacted at if you need additional assistance.

Christina Sonsire

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26 Oct

The race for legislator in the 7th District


The purpose of this blog is to promote a discussion of issues affecting Chemung County. With November 6th fast approaching, and an unprecedented number of people running for local office, the elections themselves are relevant to that discussion right now. Even though there are many contested races, the race in the 7th District is clearly the one I know best.

I am incredibly proud of the positive, hopeful and diverse characteristics of my campaign team. Our team is comprised of members of many different political parties, along with folks who are not affiliated with a party at all, and it includes many people who have never been involved with political activities in their lives. We have men, women, retirees, new parents, children, teachers, business leaders, engineers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, stay-at-home moms and dads, caregivers and many others all working together for one singular purpose: to help improve Chemung County. There is no question people want more for our community, and the actions of these volunteers and hundreds of others out there campaigning for local candidates across the area shows we are willing to hard to bring about the change we need.

Our team has been at it since February 23, 2018, when we assembled for the first time on a cold winter night at Charlie’s Cafe to kick things off.

A month later we formally announced our campaign, and unveiled a video featuring members of the community talking about why they support our efforts. (more…)

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21 Oct

Op-Ed submissions offer contrasting visions of our community’s future

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Image: Star Gazette

Today’s Star Gazette featured two starkly different visions of Chemung County’s future. Unfortunately, the Star Gazette recently stopped publishing its Opinion page online, meaning that many residents have not had a chance to read them.

One piece, co-authored by me and Tony Pucci, a candidate for legislature in the First District, pushes for transparency and cooperation, particularly when it comes to financial arrangements among Chemung County, the City of Elmira, and the towns and villages. This vision of an open, responsive and cohesive local government has been central to each of our campaigns since we decided to run nearly a year ago. The piece was previously featured in a blog post found here, and is embedded below.


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19 Oct

Negative campaigning hurts the community


2018 has been a great year for Chemung County.  With an unprecedented number of candidates running for local office, a much needed examination of how our government functions is underway. It has encouraged many serious discussions about who we are and how we can improve the way business is done in our community.

Unfortunately, the tenor of these discussions has recently begun to shift, moving away from a valuable assessment of the issues to personal attacks on the candidates. With divisiveness dominating political discourse at the state and national levels, we should try as hard as we can to avoid falling into a similar pattern here.

I believe anyone who runs for local office deserves respect, as I have learned firsthand (more…)

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12 Oct

Revised Tax Plan Raises More Questions

chemung county

Image: WENY

The following was post was submitted to the Star Gazette as a Your Turn editorial on October 12, 2018 by me (Christina Sonsire) and Tony Pucci, candidates for Chemung County Legislature.

On October 9th, we attended a meeting of the Chemung County Legislature during which it voted to change the way sales tax revenue is shared between the county and its municipalities.*

The issue of whether sales tax revenue is shared in the most economically sound way for our community has been hotly debated since 2013. At that time, Chemung County was facing significant fiscal hardships. Arguing that all municipalities aside from the City of Elmira had too much money in the bank, the County enacted a plan that took money from these municipalities in order to shore up its own finances.

The plan worked in part. The County was able to avoid a tax increase; however, many of the municipalities began to experience significant financial stress.


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10 Oct

GUEST BLOG: Former City Manager and current legislative candidate John Burin discusses new sales tax plan


Image: WEYI

The Chemung County Matters blog exists to help promote discussions about local issues. The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect my own, but are rather shared here in order to provide information and hopefully stimulate ideas.

Last night the Chemung County Legislature voted 14-2 in favor of a new sales tax plan, with only Peggy Woodard (District 8) and Rodney Strange (District 15) voting no.

The old plan has been under intense scrutiny since it was passed in 2013 for taking resources from the towns, villages and City of Elmira, causing many of them to suffer fiscal hardships.

Numerous candidates for local office have strenuously advocated for a change in the way sales tax monies are allocated between the county and its municipalities, something that is undoubtedly part of the decision of county leaders to change course.

However, the new plan has many problems as well.

Prior to the vote, I offered comments to the sitting legislature about new plan as it relates (more…)

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04 Oct

Town Hall recap

On October 3, 2018, over 60 people turned out for a Town Hall-style meeting I hosted at West Elmira’s community Center.


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27 Sep

GUEST BLOG: City Councilman Jim Waters explores the idea of a countywide police department


The Chemung County Matters blog exists to help promote discussions about local issues. The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily reflect my own, but are rather shared here in order to provide information and hopefully stimulate ideas.

The guest blog post below, submitted today by Elmira City Councilman Jim Waters, a retired Chief of the Elmira Police Department, focuses on the potential creation of a countywide police force, a topic he accurately points out has been missing from much of the campaign dialogue so far.

My view is similar to what Councilman Waters suggests insofar as I agree this topic must at least be part of the discussion. As I have gone door-to-door in the 7th Legislative District, I have heard countless times that residents do not want to lose our police officers in West Elmira. I could not agree more, as having a law enforcement presence does a lot to discourage crime and promote traffic safety. I am a mom raising two young daughters in the Town of Elmira, and therefore fully understand why people feel so strongly about this matter.


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27 Sep

Town of Elmira not immune from fiscal problems

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The question of whether sales tax revenue is allocated appropriately among Chemung County, the City of Elmira, and the county’s towns and villages has been discussed extensively over the past year.

Widespread interest about this issue is primarily driven by three factors: (1) the current sales tax agreement is set to expire in two months; (2) this November’s election features an unprecedented number of candidates for local office, many of whom have analyzed the current plan and offered opinions about ways to improve it; and (3) numerous municipal leaders have been outspoken about the plan’s negative effects on their entity’s fiscal health.

I set forth some of the recent statements by municipal leaders about the impact of the sales tax plan in a post last August, found here, and have restated them below:

*In 2016, Town of Horseheads Supervisor Mike Edwards attributed the town’s new tax levy directly to the sales tax plan, as shown here.

*Southport Town Supervisor David Sheen – named by Sheriff Chris Moss, a candidate for Chemung County Executive, to serve as deputy if Moss is elected – announced the town’s plans for infrastructure projects and buildings are on hold, and Southport taxes will likely go up in coming years as a direct result of the way sales tax revenue is distributed, as shown here.

*The Town of Chemung laid off its entire highway department earlier this year, a move (more…)

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