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Politics and Government

Barclay replaces Kolb as Assembly GOP Leader

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Assembly Minority Conference
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Central NY Assemblyman Will Barclay was elected as the new GOP leader of the state Assembly Tuesday

The minority party Republicans in the state Assembly have a new leader. Will Barclay, who represents parts of Onondaga, Oswego and Jefferson counties, replaces Brian Kolb, who resigned after being charged with drunk driving on New Year’s Eve.

GOP members, who hold less than one-third of the total seats in the Assembly, spent less than an hour in a closed door meeting to elect Barclay as their new leader. The 51-year-old attorney, who comes from a prominent Syracuse-area family, followed his father Douglas’s footsteps into state elected office in 2002. Douglas Barclay was a State Senator for 20 years before being named by former President George W. Bush as ambassador to El Salvador.

Barclay said New York faces a lot of problems, including dissatisfaction by some over the state’s new bail reform laws, that end most forms of cash bail. Barclay said it needs to be fixed.

"I would prefer to put a bill in and stop it for year, but obviously we are open to amending it in any way," said Barclay. "We also have millions of people leaving New York state, we have a $6 billion dollar shortfall. So we have huge issues facing New York."

The police report released Tuesday shows the former Assembly Republican leader had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit, and that Kolb told the tow truck driver that his wife was driving, saying "You know how women drive."

Barclay said he is "saddened and disappointed" by predecessor Brian Kolb’s actions.

"I think it’s unfortunate," said Barclay. "He’s going through some very tough times."

He said Kolb did the right thing, though, by putting the Assembly Republican conference first, and resigning his leadership post. Kolb did not attend the meeting.