By Emma Gibbs
It did not take long after the recent resignation of Niagara County District Attorney Michael Violante to bring out the “wanabees” to become the County’s next top prosecutor.
The first to announce, from what could well be a long list of candidates, was North Tonawanda Democrat Caroline Wojtaszek. Wojtaszek, currently the confidential law clerk to Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon had previously served 12 years (1998 to 2010) as an Assistant District Attorney.
The make-up for any upcoming election could well draw lines in local political sands. Wojtaszek, though a Democrat in her own right, is married to former Niagara County Republican Chairman Henry Wojtaszek. Though no longer Party chair, Mr. Wojtaszek continues to remain a not so invisible force within the local Republican circuit.
A Caroline Wojtaszek candidacy adds to an existing family presence among the local legal hierarchy. Wojtaszek’s sister-in-law Kathleen Wojtaszek- Gariano sits as a Judge in Niagara County Family and Court, her brother-in-law, the Honorable Paul Wojtaszek, is a New York Supreme Court Judge.
As the list of potential candidates materializes, one of the most prominent names rumored to replace Violante is that of Ronald “Ron” Winter. Winter, a widely-respected officer of the Court, served more than a decade as second Assistant District Attorney to Matthew J. Murphy III and is presently law clerk to State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr.
Already, though in its infancy, this race out becomes quite the puzzle. Caroline, a Democrat is married to Republican power-broker Henry Wojtaszek. Henry, a close political ally of former New York State Senator George Maziarz, has similar ties with Judge Kloch. Judge Kloch, along with Maziarz and Henry, in turn have been close political comrades with Richard “Rick” Winter.
Rick Winter, that’s right you guessed it… he’s Ron Winter’s brother. Now I would tell you that Judge Kloch’s secretary is Wojtaszek’s sister, but that would be just as mind-boggling as if I were to tell you Supreme Court Judge Paul Wojtaszek’s secretary is George Maziarz’s wife. Huh??
Now, one has to wonder why is there such a rush to seize control of the office which monitors prosecution in Niagara County. One has to ponder if the Democratic Party will surrender its shot at the D.A.’s Office, the authority which oversees public corruption, to a candidate with such distinct ties to the political powers on the other side. Blood is thicker than water, only time will tell. Leave the gun…take the cannoli.