Assembly minority elects new leader, as Kolb blames wife for DWI crash

Jan 7, 2020

Minority party Republicans in the New York State Assembly have a new leader. The change comes as new details become public about the DWI arrest of his predecessor.

Assemblymember Will Barclay poses for a photo Tuesday after being elected minority leader.
Credit Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Will Barclay from the Syracuse area replaces Brian Kolb, who resigned after being charged with drunken driving on New Year’s Eve. GOP members, who hold less than one-third of the total seats in the Assembly, spent less than an hour in a closed-door meeting to elect Barclay as their new leader.

The 51-year-old attorney, who comes from a prominent Syracuse family, followed his father’s footsteps into state elected office in 2002. Douglas Barclay was a state senator for 20 years before being named by former President George W. Bush as ambassador to El Salvador.

Barclay said New York faces many problems, including dissatisfaction by some over the state’s new bail reform laws that end most forms of cash bail. Barclay said they need to be fixed.  

“I would prefer to put a bill in and stop it for a year, but obviously we are open to amending it in any way,” said Barclay. “We also have millions of people leaving New York state. We have a $6 billion shortfall. So we have huge issues facing New York.”  

The same day, court documents released show Kolb had a blood-alcohol content that was twice the legal limit. A tow truck driver also said Kolb told him that his wife had been driving, saying “You know how women drive,” according to the documents.  

Barclay said he is “saddened and disappointed” by his predecessor's actions. 

“I think it’s unfortunate,” said Barclay. “He’s going through some very tough times.”  

He said Kolb did the right thing by putting the Assembly Republican conference first and resigning his leadership post. Kolb did not attend the meeting.