VICTOR — Just three days after he was arrested for drunk driving, Brian Kolb announced he is resigning as state Assembly Minority Leader, a position he has held since 2009.
“As leader of the Assembly Minority Conference, I have always tried to put the needs and best interests of our conference ahead of my own. That is why I have decided to step down as Minority Leader,” Kolb said in a statement sent to media outlets Friday evening.
Kolb, 67, who represents the 131st Assembly District, which includes all of Ontario County and part of Seneca County, was charged with DWI on New Year’s Eve after he crashed his state-owned SUV into a ditch near his new home on County Road 41 in Victor.
“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. But I will not allow my own personal challenges to distract from the goals, message, and mission of the Assembly Minority Conference,” Kolb said in the statement. “With a new year and new legislative session ahead, the work of our conference cannot be undermined or deterred in any way.”
On Thursday, Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts named Yates County DA Todd Casella as special prosecutor in the case. Kolb’s misdemeanor charge will be handled in Victor Town Court.
Kolb’s long tenure as Minority Leader was called into question after his arrest, including a direct request by a fellow Assembly Republican — Kieran Lalor of East Fishkill in the Hudson Valley — for Kolb to step down from the position.
Kolb was first elected to the Assembly in 2000 and has been reelected nine times, most times either overwhelmingly or unopposed, including the last time on Nov. 6, 2018 when he was unopposed. The seat is up for election this November.
“I will be forever grateful for the confidence my colleagues have placed in me for the past 10 years. 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 said. “The events of Dec. 31 are ones I will always deeply regret. On a personal level, I have begun the process of seeking professional help in order to heal, learn, and fully address the challenges that I, along with my family, currently face.”
It isn’t known at this point who will seek the minority leadership position. The Legislature is scheduled to return to Albany on Wednesday for the 2020 session.