DEPEW (WKBW) The exit of now-former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, who retired amid a sexual harassment scandal, leaves his State Assembly seat vacant. It also leaves the people of the 143rd district, specifically Cheektowaga, Lancaster, and Depew, without a representative.
That was one of the hot topics Monday night at the Village of Depew board meeting.
"If we have problems, who do we go to if we need help in that area?" Depew resident Paul Sprada said.
"Who knows what money is there and allocated for this area. And if we don't have representation, it could go elsewhere and we will have nobody to fight for us," Depew resident Patricia Simmons added.
Mayor Steven Hoffman says the Village of Depew relies heavily on state funds that were brought in by Gabryszak, and the longer his seat is empty, the worse it is for the district.
"For us to wait any period of time is just going to hurt the taxpayers of the Village of Depew. And we'll do everything we can to get somebody in that seat and to do a job as Gabryszak did, that's had our backs," Hoffman said.
In the mean time, State Senator Tim Kennedy is offering his assistance to residents in the 143rd district.
"We absolutely need to make sure that the people of Cheektowaga, Depew, and Sloan have strong representation in State government. And I know I'm going to continue to serve as a strong voice fighting for them in the State Senate, but they deserve an Assembly representation as well. So as soon as we can fill that seat the better and we're going to be advocating for that," Kennedy said.
To fill the vacant seat, the Governor would have to call for a special election. If he chooses not to, the seat will be empty until the November election picks the next representative. That person would take office in January, a full calendar year from now.