HORNELL — The Steuben County Republican Party will be receiving some news they didn't expect today as Hornell's John Buckley will be declining a nomination to be on the ballot for state assemblyman in November.
Steuben County Republican Chairman Rusty Smith told the Evening Tribune the party decided on Buckley was night and would put his name up tonight at 7 p.m. when GOP leaders from three counties meet.
Buckley told the Tribune he is not going to accept the nomination.
"At first, I thought, 'it's nice to hear that, but let's not get carried away.' The hierarchy in the Republican Party encouraged me to run.I felt guilty even having those conversations because Bill and I are friends ... Bill is not even buried yet and we're having those conversations," said Buckley. "I realize the primary has to go on, we have to select a candidate to put forward in November."
Buckley said while he's honored for the nomination, two things are preventing him for accepting, his responsibilities as an elected official in Hornell and his family. And not exactly in that order.
"I'm honored my fellow Republicans in Steuben County have selected me and hold me in such high regard," said Buckley. "I talked it over with my wife (Shannon) and it's something I don't want to pursue at this time," said Buckley. "I can't see myself in Albany. I tuck my daughters (Allyson, 11, Maya, 5) in at night when they go to bed. After they are sleeping, I sneak in their room and kiss them goodnight, and tell them, 'Daddy loves you.' It sounds sappy, but I do it every night. Even nights I have late meetings and they are sleeping when I get home I still kiss them goodnight and whisper I love them in their ear."
Buckley said he thought about the year-round job and his friendship with Nojay.
"It's been a very difficult and trying time from when the news broke, there's been so many conflicting emotions, it was an emotional roller coaster. We were good friends, we came on the scene together so to speak, I was numb for a while," said Buckley. "It's terrible what happened (police in Rochester said Nojay died from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound). I feel terrible for his wife and children. Because of the timing of it all, no one like myself was given time to adequately grieve. A day goes by, phone calls and emails are flying because the primary date is so close. People started floating my name around.
"I am friends with (assemblymen) Phil Palmesano and Tom O'Mara, I know their schedules and how busy they are. Even when you are not in session you are running around the district," Buckley continued. "Honestly, I've made a commitment to the city. Mayor Hogan has appointed me deputy mayor twice. Being an alderman and deputy mayor is a commitment and Hornell is where I want to be."
Buckley said he was told about the meeting and he is contacting Steuben County GOP Chairman Rusty Smith to let him know of his decision.
"There will be other candidates, I won't be the only candidate. I'm very honored they hold me in that regard," said Buckley. "I'm very confident Chairman Smith and the other chairmen will pick a fine candidate to put forth and I will be very supportive of that candidate."
Buckley said that family had to come first in his consideration of the position and advice from trusted colleagues.
"My wife Shannon is so great, I wear three hats (the two positions with the city and chairman of the Hornell Republican Committee) and even though they are local, I'm out of the house a lot and she is a rock on the home front and I don't want to leave them and be four hours away," said Buckley. "I've talked to (Hornell) Mayor Shawn Hogan about (working in Albany) over the years and he gave me a great piece of advice. You can make more of a difference and impact in people's lives on the local level than in Albany or Washington D.C."
The primary election for the 133rd Assembly District seat ended Tuesday night with Nojay winning the nod on the ballot over Republican Richard B. Milne, 2,736 to 1,763.
Milne has also withdrawn his name for consideration according to a statement issued on Wednesday.
“It is important for me to state that while I do not believe I would be given real consideration as the appointed candidate moving forward; if I were offered that appointment under these current circumstances I would not accept.
I hold my honor, integrity, my respect of people and my ethical beliefs paramount. To be elected to the NY State Assembly under the current process is something I will not do. Thus I’m immediately withdrawing my name as a candidate for consideration,” he said.
Milne cited his dissatisfaction with the process of selecting a candidate as a major factor in his decision to withdraw.
“As I have stated prior, while I may not “like” the process that is now being followed, it is the process that is in place and I must respect it. I must also say that while there were extraordinary influences in the outcome of the election, which I believe were unethical, it is something I have to accept.,” the statement said.
Smith meets tonight with Monroe County Republican Party Chairman Bill Reilich and Livingston County Republican Chairman Lowell Conrad at 7 p.m. to make a decision.