Lancaster town officials have a message for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo: Hold a special election for the vacant seat in the 143rd Assembly District.
The town appears to be the first one to take a formal stance on the matter since Democrat Dennis H. Gabryszak recently resigned the seat amidst a swirl of sexual harassment allegations.
The Lancaster Town Board last week unanimously adopted a resolution sponsored by Councilman John Abraham Jr., calling on Cuomo to set a special election.
“Upstate and Western New York need every voice we can get in the Assembly,” Abraham said, noting that he hopes someone takes note of the town’s request. “This isn’t a 3-month vacancy. This is a whole year.”
Abraham noted that the local offices for an assemblyman help residents navigate the systems to address their concerns. “We need a voice, from everything to budget, Common Core and education. We should have a voice in the Assembly,” he said, noting that without a special election, the people would not have representation until next January.
Lancaster forwarded its resolution to Cuomo’s office, as well as the Town of Cheektowaga and villages of Depew, Lancaster, and Sloan – in addition to all members of the Western New York delegation to the State Senate and Assembly.
Like others, Abraham noted that it’s not just the Lancaster area that is lacking a voice in Albany. “It’s not just us. That’s a lot of people to go without representation,” he said.
Cheektowaga GOP Chairman Don Friedrich said his committee plans to meet today to address the issue and some potential candidates. However, he noted that a special election is expensive.
Still, Friedrich said it’s important that the people have representation. “The constituents in that district should be represented. November is along time to wait,” he said. “There are a lot of hot-button issues.”
Meanwhile, Lancaster Councilwoman Donna Stempniak, whose name is in the mix as a potential Assembly candidate, insisted that representation of the district is needed “sooner rather than later.”
She also noted the urgency in determining the status of pending state grants to the district. Lancaster town and village have several pending. “We would like a voice. We know the state doesn’t think the grant money is important, but we don’t have any champions for us,” Stempniak said.
Lancaster Councilman Mark Aquino didn’t mince words. “To me, it’s ridiculous to go a whole year without representation,” he said. We don’t get enough representation anyways. We should have somebody there, especially at budget time.”