The Cheektowaga Town Board’s longest-tenured member, Patricia A. Jaworowicz, submitted a letter Friday of her intent to resign from a post she has held since 1982, effective next Wednesday, citing concerns over her health, according to a statement by her family.
As the first woman ever elected to a post in Cheektowaga town government, Jaworowicz, 66 – a lifelong town resident – blazed a trail for women in the town. Her departure was not unexpected because she has not been present at meetings of the Town Board since August. She was elected eight consecutive times to the board.
“Unfortunately, my mom has not gotten better,” said Tim Jaworowicz, referring to “substantial health issues over the last two years” that have sidelined the board member. “She has made the difficult decision that she can no longer continue. For her sake, and for the sake of the people of the Town of Cheektowaga, it [would] be best that she step down from her duties at this time.”
Details of Jaworowicz’s medical condition were not released by the family. Family members said she expects to move on and begin “the next phase of her life as a retired person” at home in Cheektowaga.
Although not surprising, Jaworowicz’s resignation proved emotional for her colleagues on the board.
Council Member James P. Rogowski, the son of longtime Council Member William P. Rogowski, was briefly overcome when asked to describe Jaworowicz’s contributions to the town.
“I pray for Pat every night, she’s going through some tough times,” said Rogowski, 40. “I’ve known Pat my whole life – she was over at my house for dinner with my parents when I was still living home.”
“She’s an outstanding mother and a caring person who would go to bat for anyone.”
Rogowski credited Jaworowicz with standing her ground with his father against backlash in the 1980s from town residents who opposed the construction of the Walden Galleria. “If they did not hold strong, we wouldn’t have that epic retail space here in the Town of Cheektowaga,” said Rogowski.
That was only one of the major accomplishments on a record of which she rarely boasted.
“She oversaw the Police Department and changed the way recruitment was done to make it equal opportunity for all and instituted a fair system for hiring,” Rogowski added.
Council Member Stanley J. Kaznowski III called Jaworowicz a “dedicated” servant of Cheektowaga “who cared about the town.”
“I learned a lot from her,” said Kaznowski. “Most people didn’t give her credit for what she did for the town because she didn’t publicize it.”
Added Angela M. Wozniak, a pioneer of her own as the first Republican woman elected to the board in 2011 whom some say benefitted by the trail blazed by Jaworowicz: “She served honorably for the town for many years. Her influence on our town will never be forgotten.”
Town Board members said Jaworowicz’s decision was in no way influenced by Wozniak’s recent call for downsizing the board from seven members to five. As part of her argument, Wozniak said that the board had been effectively operating with six members and would be shedding the existing duties of a single board member.
Kaznowski said Friday that Jaworowicz’s resignation “has nothing to do ... with the issues put forth by the Republicans” and that the rest of the board members wanted to give their colleague the time she needed to deal with her health.
“We knew it was a matter of time. We weren’t going to say when the time was. It was a matter of time for when Pat was ready,” Kaznowski added. “It was solely her decision to end her career when she wanted it to end.”
Jaworowicz began her life in public service in her 20s after joining the Cheektowaga Democratic Committee in 1971. She served as one of New York State’s 41 electors on the 1976 Electoral College that formally put Jimmy Carter in the White House. Before her candidacy for the Town Board in 1981, Jaworowicz served as a senior clerk on the central staff of the Erie County Legislature in the 1970s.
Kaznowski and Rogowski both said there appears to be a consensus among board members for Jaworowicz’s seat to remain vacant until this November’s general election when her current term, as well as each of theirs, expires. Both said they believe “the people of Cheektowaga” rather than the board itself should determine Jaworowicz’s replacement.
“My mom will be dealing with her biggest fight yet as she tackles her health problems, but she is a tough lady,” added her son, Tim. “I ask the community to extend her your prayers and your best wishes.”