Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, has taken himself out of the running to fill the 57th Senate District vacancy caused by the resignation Sunday of state Sen. Catharine Young of Olean.
Giglio, who has served in the Assembly since he succeeded Young in 2005, told the Olean Times Herald Monday morning he had unfinished business in the Assembly he wants to complete and would not seek the Senate post.
He represents the 148th Assembly District.
With Giglio out of consideration, eyes turn toward potential candidates in Chautauqua County, the largest of the four counties, and Allegany County, where Legislature Chairman Curt Crandall of Belfast has signaled his interest.
“It piqued my interest,” Giglio said of the Senate position representing four counties, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and part of Livingston County. “I would have liked to represent Chautauqua County again. Geographically, it would have made sense,” he added.
“People asked me to run. I already represent much of the district,” he said, which includes Cattaraugus, Allegany and part of Steuben counties. “I thought I could do the most good in the Assembly.”
Giglio said he notified Senate Republicans of his decision on Sunday as well as county Republican Party chairmen in the four counties.
Young announced two weeks ago she would step down on Sunday to become director of the Cornell Center For Excellence in Agriculture and Food at Geneva. That job started on Monday.
“The timing was awful,” Giglio said. “It’s in the middle of the budget. I am laser-focused on what I’m doing.”
Giglio said he asked himself “where I could do the most good. I have built relationships in the Assembly. I can work with both sides of the aisle. In the end, I had some unfinished business.”
Crandall has been involved in local government and has held continuous, publicly elected office since 1984. He has held key leadership positions in both town and county government.
He has chaired the Allegany County Finance, Ways and Means, and Technology committees. A former Legislature majority leader, Crandall is currently the longest-serving chairman of the Board of Legislators in Allegany County, having been first elected to the post in 2006.
“I was waiting to see what Joe Giglio was going to do,” Crandall told the Times Herald Monday. “He was the key player.”
Crandall said he plans to interview for the Senate seat on Thursday.
It’s still unclear whether the seat will be filled in a special election where the four county chairmen would name a candidate, or through the petition process for the November election, Crandall said.
The last Allegany County resident to run for Senate was John Hasper, a longtime Republican Assemblyman who challenged the late Sen. Jess J. Present of Jamestown in the Republican and Conservative primaries in 1992. Hasper won the Conservative primary but finished third in the November race to Present, the winner, and Democrat Nancy Bargar of Lakewood in Chautauqua County.
In Chautauqua County, County Executive George Borrello, County Legislature Chairman P.J. Wendel and Jamestown lawyer Randy Elf are on the list of potential candidates.
Giglio said last week that as a Republican member of the Assembly he was used to being in the minority and was considering whether to become a candidate for the Senate seat.
Geographically, it is a bigger district when Chautauqua County is added, but only about one-third bigger, Giglio said. Geographically he would be closer to most Chautauqua County towns than he is to much of Allegany County. When he was first elected, the Assembly District included a number of Chautauqua County towns.
Robert Keis Sr., Cattaraugus County Republican Party chairman, said the four county chairmen plan to meet Thursday, possibly at Moonwinks in Cuba to interview potential candidates.
Keis said he understands Giglio’s desire to complete unfinished business in the Assembly but wishes the Senate seat wasn’t headed back to Chautauqua County.
“I don’t have any candidates from this county who have stepped forward and asked to be considered,” Keis said.
A candidate’s electability is the top concern of both parties. The Conservative and Independence parties are also expected to endorse candidates for a special election.
Cattaraugus County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Puglisi said party chairman plan to interview candidates soon.
Puglisi listed a couple of Cattaraugus County legislators as possible Senate candidates, Minority Leader Susan Labuhn of Salamanca and Assistant Minority Leader John Padlo of Olean. They were among about 10 people who had expressed interest in running for the 57th Senate seat.
Last week, Austin Morgan, a 22-year-old Cornell University senior from Freedom, and Bargar, a former Chautauqua County legislator, announced they were interested in being considered for the seat.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)