Paul Michael Wendel Jr. “PJ” has been a Chautauqua County resident since 1977. PJ graduated from in Southwestern Central School 1988. Attending SUNY Brockport in the fall of 1988, he majored in Physical Education/Teacher Certification. PJ was a four-year Varsity letter winner for the nationally ranked wrestling team. A two time NCAA qualifier and eventual All – American his senior year, he captained the wrestling team his senior year that finished with the schools fifth NCAA Division III National Championship. In 2019, he was inducted into the SUNY Brockport Athletic Hall of Fame. PJ graduated from SUNY Brockport with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physical Education in 1992. In 2000, PJ was hired full time at Falconer Central School as boys Physical Education Teacher where he has remained for the past 19 years.
PJ joined the Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department in 1991, where he continues to serves the village to this day. While a member of the VFD, he became an EMT in 1995 and he continues to maintain his EMT certification. During his 31 years as a volunteer Firefighter/EMT, he has held the ranks of Assistant Lieutenant, Lieutenant, Assistant Captain, and Assistant Chief. PJ has also been the Vice-President and President of the Lakewood Volunteer Fire Company, and served in the business division of the fire department. In 2019 PJ was selected EMS Provider of the year. After graduation, he began to substitute teach at Southwestern, Jamestown and Falconer, school districts.
In 2004, PJ received and Masters of Sport Studies with a concentration in Exercise Science from the United States Sports Academy, in Daphne, Alabama. PJ Also received a Masters of Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Graduating Suma Cum Laude, in Educational Leadership.
PJ began his career in local government when he was elected as a Trustee for the village of Lakewood in 2007. He served the village for five years while serving his final two years as Deputy Mayor.
While a village Trustee, he served on Parks and Public Safety committees. In 2011, PJ successfully ran for County Legislative District 18. During his 8 years, PJ has served on Administrative Services, Audit and Control, as well as a four-year term as Chairman of the Public Safety committee. PJ was appointed as Assistant Majority leader in 2014, then moved up to Majority leader in 2016. PJ was unanimously elected as Chairman of the Legislature in 2018 and 2019. During his time on the legislature, PJ has been involved in the budget process, an integral proponent for the life-saving Chautauqua County Fly Car System, as well as a Co – Chair of the Community Justice council, and served as a member of both the EMS Council and Fire advisory board. The Chautauqua County Legislature unanimously appointed PJ to fill the vacant Chautauqua County Executive position this past January. PJ lives in Lakewood with his wife of 18 years Jennifer and their two children.