Albany, NY - As Assemblyman Michael Kearns calls for Speaker Sheldon Silver's resignation, will his Western New York allies in the Assembly follow suit?
Kearns joined the NYS Assembly in March of 2012. He is a Democrat who ran as a Republican after not getting his party's endorsement in the special election. That's why he joined the Democratic conference until he defected Monday.
"As a conference, we have control over who is the speaker, and that I'm calling on him to step down in his leadership position. Until Sheldon Silver resigns, I will suspend my participation in the Democratic Conference," said Kearns.
Instead, Kearns will create an independent caucus. He also realizes he will likely create some waves in Albany.
"I understand he is one of the most powerful people in Albany so I do expect some consequences. However I was not elected to worry about those consequences, I was elected to represent the people. My constituents that I've been talking to have conveyed to me that they want a change and it's time for him to step down," says Kearns.
One of Kearns colleagues, Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D), told us he does not always agree with the Speaker. He says that for Kearns it must have gotten to the point where he felt strongly enough to ask him to resign from his leadership position.
"It's no secret that he and the speaker have had a rocky relationship and he just thought it was time, you know, for him to make this move," said Gabryszak.
"Do you agree with him? Do you disagree with him?" asked Kelly Dudzik.
"I don't necessarily, you know, he did what he felt he had to do, you know, for himself and for his district," says Gabryszak.
Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D) said via email, "The Speaker has admitted that he should have handled the entire matter differently, and I completely agree with that statement."
While Ryan did not indicate whether he thought Silver should step down from his post, he did say he supports New York putting in place the most aggressive sexual harassment prevention policy in the nation. Monday afternoon, Speaker Silver announced while he has no plans to step down, sexual harassment complaint policy changes will be put in place.
All of the Assemblymembers are in Albany. We spoke with Crystal Peoples-Stokes' (D) staff in Buffalo and we were told that they would try to get a hold of her in Albany.
Robin Schimminger's (D) press secretary also told us she would pass along our message. We did not get a response from either Assemblymember.