Assemblyman Brian Kolb stepped down as minority leader after his drunk driving arrest this week.
Kolb, a Republican, decided to relinquish the post after more than 10 years as Assembly GOP leader. Before his announcement, he was the longest-serving state legislative leader.
"I have a profound respect for each and every one of my colleagues, and sincerely admire their daily efforts on behalf of constituents and communities in every corner of the state," Kolb said in a statement Friday. "But I will not allow my own personal challenges to distract from the goals, message and mission of the Assembly Minority Conference."
Kolb was arrested Dec. 31 after crashing his state-issued vehicle near his home in Victor, Ontario County. He was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and unsafe turn. A special prosecutor — Yates County District Attorney Todd Casella — will handle the case.
After Kolb's arrest, one Assembly Republican — Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor — urged Kolb to resign as minority leader.
While Kolb will no longer lead the GOP conference, he will remain in the Assembly. He was elected in 2000 and named minority leader in April 2009. As the top Republican in the Assembly, he was a leading critic of Democratic proposals and unveiled his conference's own plans to address major state issues, such as ethics reform and infrastructure.
"I will be forever grateful for the confidence my colleagues have placed in me for the past 10 years," Kolb said. "But in my heart, I know that this is the right time for a new leader to step in and advance an agenda that benefits all New Yorkers."
Kolb added that he regrets his DWI arrest and is seeking professional help "in order to heal, learn, and fully address the challenges that I, along with my family, currently face."
Kolb's announcement comes days before the start of the legislative session. The Assembly and Senate will meet Wednesday — the day of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address.
No successor has been named. Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, a Lyons Republican, said he supports Kolb's decision. He's not aware of who might be interested in replacing Kolb, but he hopes an upstate Republican will succeed him.
"I respect (Kolb) and want to thank him for his service to us as minority leader for many years," Manktelow said.
Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.
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