Former Cheektowaga Councilman James P. Rogowski, convicted last year on charges related to a domestic violence incident and forced off the Town Board, is circulating designating petitions to run for town supervisor.
He sponsored a petition drive Saturday in Sloan and is planning a fundraiser for later this week.
Rogowski, a four-term councilman, was ousted from his seat in September after pleading guilty to attempted criminal contempt, a misdemeanor, in connection with a domestic violence incident involving his wife. He is on probation and required to attend 40 weeks of domestic abuse sensitivity training.
Rogowski may legally pursue a public office, said Derek Murphy, communications director for the Erie County Board of Elections.
Rogowski, who is enrolled in the Democratic Party, is circulating a Democratic petition. He also has the option to circulate an independent nominating petition if he chose to establish his own line.
Attempts to reach Rogowski through social media and by phone were unsuccessful.
It appears Rogowski may already have tried to start his own political party, according to Karen M. Gold, chairwoman of Sloan’s “The People’s Choice” Party. The reports of that started in September after he was ordered to vacate his seat and before his appeal was heard.
“He was circulating petitions in a bid to regain a council seat using 'People’s Choice' (party)," Gold said. “We didn’t want him to be linked to our party."
Rogowski apparently stopped using the party name, Gold said.
Rogowski's legal issues began with an order of protection his estranged wife obtained. That was issued shortly after Cheektowaga police answered a domestic call at the Rogowski residence. No criminal charges were filed in connection with that incident, Cheektowaga police said.
Soon after that incident, West Seneca police arrested Rogowski following a traffic incident in which he followed his wife, who was driving a vehicle with her sister. He initially was charged with felony menacing and contempt, but District Attorney John J. Flynn agreed to a plea reduction, saying Rogowski had been "overcharged."
Supervisor Diane Benczkowski maintained Rogowski has the right to seek public office, but that doesn't make it right, she said.
“What bothers me the most is his total disrespect of the law in defying the judge’s restraining order his wife had taken out against him," she said. "I will be taking a very strong stand against domestic violence offenders during my campaign."
The timing of this year’s primaries – advancing from September to June – pushes ahead the due date for the petitions, meaning candidates and their staff started collecting signatures in February ahead of the April 4 due date.
Rogowski is planning a fundraiser, judging from a post Thursday on social media. Sponsored by the Friends and Family of James Rogowski, the event is scheduled for March 30.
Rogowski is part of a well-known political family in Cheektowaga. His father, William P. Rogowski, spent a majority of adulthood in public service, including stints as mayor of Sloan and on the Cheektowaga Town Board.