The Cheektowaga Assemblywoman sanctioned following a sexual harassment complaint filed by a top aide has decided not to run for re-election.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Wozniak said, “After a great deal of consideration, I have decided not to seek re-election to the 143rd Assembly District and will be taking this time to focus on my family. I extend my sincere appreciation to everyone for their support over the past two years. It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the great residents of our community.”
Wozniak’s decision comes after she was cleared by the Assembly's Ethics Committee of sexual harassment and other related charges in March of this year. It was determined that her sexual relations with a male staff member were consensual, however, the committee recognized that Wozniak attempted to retaliate against the staff member after he filed a complaint. Wozniak's sanctions included a ban on interns and a formal letter of admonition.
Candidates on both sides of the aisle are already looking to fill the seat. In a statement released late on Tuesday afternoon, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner said Wozniak's decision gives her district an opportunity to choose a new candidate that represents the very best of their community, and one that restores integrity and trust to Albany. Langworthy said that candidate for the Democrats is attorney Monica Wallace, who received the committee endorsement in early April.
On the Republican front, Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said he’s been approached by several interested candidates in recent weeks, anticipating Wozniak’s decision.
“I have not entertained any of the discussions with candidates until we knew what Assemblywoman Wozniak’s plans were,” said Langworthy. “As she’s now determined she will not be a candidate this year, we will look towards other candidates and set up an interview process, and we will nominate a candidate when our petitions hit the street in June.”
As to whether the seat will remain in Republican hands, Langworthy said he’s not willing to make any bold predictions yet, given that the district is heavily Democratic.
Wozniak originally won her seat in 2014 following the resignation of Democrat Dennis Gabryszak amid allegations of sexual harassment by several of his female staff members. Given Gabryszak and Wozniak’s behavior, Langworthy said ethics will be in the forefront of this and every other New York race.
“You have the Buffalo Billion in the Governor’s office now under federal investigation for possible corruption. We’ve had two of the legislative leaders…Sheldon Silver’s now been sentenced to 12 years in prison and Dean Skelos will be sentenced later this month to go to prison, as well, for corruption, said Langworthy. “Corruption is at the forefront of the minds of voters this year.”
Langworthy said he’s close to thinking that a constitutional convention is required to change the workings of Albany.
Langworthy called Wozniak’s situation unfortunate, but said he is confident the Republican Party will put forward a candidate for the district who will fight for conservative values and run an aggressive race.