WXXI AM News

Kolb Says Morelle is a "Viable Candidate" For Assembly Speaker

Jan 28, 2015

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Minority Leader Brian Kolb

Majority Leader Joe Morelle will take temporary leadership of the State Assembly when Speaker Sheldon Silver relinquishes that title. 

A vote is scheduled on February 10 for the Assembly to elect a new Speaker, as Silver defends himself against federal corruption charges.

Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb is sounding supportive of Morelle for the leadership role on a more permanent basis.

"I think Joe is a very viable candidate,” Kolb told WXXI News. “He's a great colleague. We don't always see eye to eye on public policy but he certainly has the experience to become Speaker."

But Kolb says Assembly Democrats are accustomed to a Speaker from New York City.  He said the best candidate should be elected to fill the role, regardless of geographic location.

The Republican is says it was the right thing for Silver to step down.  Kolb called on the Assembly Speaker to do that hours after learning that he had been arrested last week.

"But it took the Assembly Democrat conference four or five days to come to that same conclusion. All that did is halt the deliberations of the chamber. We haven't had committee meetings; we haven't had votes on the floor. We were supposed to take up two bills earlier this week.”

Silver, who led the Assembly for 21 years and exercised strong central control,was accused last week by federal prosecutors of influencing legislation and awarding grants to collect almost $4 million in kickbacks over a decade. 

He declined to immediately resign, predicting he'll be exonerated.