ALBANY — Assemblyman Joseph Giglio said Assembly Republicans made a good choice in naming William Barclay of Pulaski the new minority leader.
Barclay succeeds Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R-Victor, who said he would not seek re-election to the minority leader’s post after his arrest for driving while intoxicated in front of his home on New Year’s Eve.
“Will has been here for a long time,” Giglio, R-Gowanda, said in an interview after Barclay was elected minority leader on Tuesday. “He’s been in leadership and is the ranking member on Ways and Means. He has a good command of the budget and whatever else is going on. He’s a good guy.”
Barclay said he is “enormously proud of the work the Assembly Minority Conference has done to advocate on behalf of the people of this great state, and I’m honored to have the support and confidence of my colleagues. As we start a new year and a new decade, our Conference is ready to get to work on the serious issues facing New York.”
Barclay was first elected in 2002 to represent the 120th Assembly District, which includes much of Oswego County, the Onondaga County town of Lysander and the Jefferson County town of Ellisburg.
Giglio said that as of last Friday, in the wake of Kolb’s DWI arrest, three Assembly Republicans were showing interest in the minority leader’s post.
By the time the Assembly members arrived in Albany on Monday, it appeared that Barclay had the votes to become the new minority leader, Giglio said. The vote for Barclay was unanimous.
Senate Minority Leader John J. Flanagan said Barclay has been a strong advocate for his constituents in Central New York.
“I have known Will for a long time, and as a former member of the Assembly Republican Conference, I know he will play a critical role in providing a much-needed voice to millions of hardworking New Yorkers,” Flanagan said in a statement.
Giglio said state lawmakers are awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10th State of the State address scheduled for today.
“The biggest things in Albany right now are the deficit and the criminal justice issues,” Giglio said.
The state is facing a $6.1 billion deficit in the 2019-20 budget, which by law is supposed to be approved by April 1, and increased calls to roll back some of the criminal justice reforms passed last year and that went into effect Jan. 1.
Specifically, the no cash bail provision for misdemeanors and most nonviolent felonies has sparked concerns among district attorneys and law enforcement. Giglio said he and most Republican lawmakers would prefer to repeal the criminal justice reforms and start over.
“We’re finding more and more places where it affects people,” the assemblyman said of the criminal justice reforms. “It’s not just discovery. It’s not just bail reform. It’s about how do we keep people safe?”
Giglio added, “We don’t know how much of it is broken. We don’t want a tragedy to happen. Let’s give discretion back to the courts and start over.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)