Angela Wozniak needs to resign.
It’s not so much that the freshman assemblywoman from Cheektowaga had an extramarital affair with a staffer – though that’s part of it. It’s the harassment and retaliation she engaged in after Elias Farah, her legislative director, ended their affair. That moved her conduct beyond the “incredibly poor judgment” for which an Assembly ethics panel cited her and into the realm of the intolerable.
If it were just the affair, it might be possible to write it off as the kind of personal mistake to which human beings are subject, and let voters decide whether to retain her in office. Even then, though, the fact that she was engaged in a sexual relationship with a staffer over whom she had authority made it an unequal relationship and therefore an especially serious error that could be enough to cost her the position.
But it was more than that. The Conservative Party assemblywoman apparently didn’t much like it when Farah called off the affair. First, she continued to pursue the sexual relationship with him, until she confessed the affair to her husband in late June. She then prohibited Farah, still her employee, from working in her Cheektowaga office or from attending community events. That limited his effectiveness and could easily have damaged his reputation.
Worse, the ethics panel said she also “made false statements” about Farah’s work performance to someone who had recommended him for a job. And it said her counsel released his name to the media and “used the press to further tarnish his reputation by telling the reporter that Assembly Member Wozniak would take action against anyone who maliciously defamed her.”
Altogether, it constitutes despicable behavior. Wozniak should do her constituents the favor of acknowledging her unsuitability for office and step down. Today would not be too soon.
One of the most ironic aspects of this episode is that the assemblywoman is the second consecutive representative of the 143rd Assembly District to betray her constituents in this way. The fact that the sexual misconduct of her predecessor, Dennis Gabryszak, who resigned in January 2014, was even worse than hers does nothing to excuse it or offer residents of the district any solace. Once again, constituents are saddled with representation that is of no value to them.
It’s a shame, because Wozniak appeared to be a good, if unlikely, fit for the traditionally Democratic district, leading to her endorsement by this page. Her ideas about representation matched the needs of the overtaxed residents of an overtaxed state. And it’s likely that, as a woman, she benefited from some level of confidence that however she might fall short, it wouldn’t be through sexual misconduct.
We see no immediate sign that Wozniak will do the right thing and step down. Gabryszak clung to his seat for weeks before he acknowledged reality. Wozniak’s supporters need to make her understand that she has virtually no chance of winning re-election after this disgrace and that her efforts would be better spent dealing with the personal fallout from her conduct. She should move on.
It’s a shame for all concerned, especially the ill-treated voters who were once ably served by Paul Tokasz, who rose to become the Assembly’s majority leader, second only to the chamber’s speaker. Since then, it’s been two consecutive ethical disasters.
That’s enough. Wozniak will be of no service during budget negotiations and will bring home no bacon to her district. She’s just a distraction at this point. It’s time to go away and clear the deck for someone better.