Lawmaker gets 9-month Middle East post, will miss most of legislative session
By Gwendolyn Craig
State Sen. Mark Walczyk, whose district includes part of the Adirondack Park, will deploy to Kuwait for nine months beginning the end of January. Walczyk, who is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, made the announcement in a letter to constituents on Dec. 4.
Though the Republican lawmaker will be missing most if not all of the 2024 legislative session, his chief of staff Michael Schenk said the senator will not be resigning. Walczyk, whose constituency includes Hamilton, Fulton, Jefferson and Lewis counties and parts of Herkimer, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties, did not provide an interview.
“I have hired a team of people who have your interests at heart,” Walczyk wrote. “They stand ready to work just as hard for you as I do, everyday.” Walczyk noted state Assembly representatives “will continue to fight to balance power and bring common sense to policy in Albany.”
News of Walczyk’s upcoming departure spurred a number of well wishes and notes of respect from legislative colleagues. Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt called Walczyk’s deployment “an example of true American patriotism.”
A spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said she “has deep respect for individuals who put on the uniform to serve our nation and is praying for Senator Walczyk’s safe return.”
It is unusual for a senator to leave for such a length of time while still in office.
Wishing Walczyk well, Bill Farber, town of Morehouse supervisor in Hamilton County, pointed out that Basil Seggos, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, has deployed while in state service. Long Island former Sen. Tom Croci, a Republican, deployed with the U.S. Navy in 2018. The announcement came toward the end of the legislative session in May. Croci also chose not to seek reelection.
Schenk said Walczyk will be seeking reelection this November. His political coffers have nearly $68,000, according to campaign filings with the state Board of Elections. He was most actively collecting donations this summer.
State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, said during Walczyk’s time on active duty, his office will help “ensure that our constituents in St. Lawrence County continue to receive the active, engaged leadership and services they expect and deserve,” according to a release.
Brian Wells, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, said he and others “are all very proud of Sen. Walczyk” and other service members. “I’m sure that this is going to bring unique challenges to the Senator, his staff and his family, but with cooperation and communication I feel confident in his ability to represent Hamilton County. His colleagues in Albany should also be willing to help no matter which political party they belong to,” Wells added.
“The voters knew he was a reservist when they elected him,” said Jerry Delaney, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board. “I commend him for his service.”
Photo at top: State Sen. Mark Walczyk, who represents part of the Adirondacks, will be deployed to Kuwait at the end of January. Courtesy photo
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