Photo: Karlin, Rick
ALBANY – Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan will miss the start of the new legislative session to seek additional help in his ongoing battle with alcohol dependency.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Long Island Republican, who led the chamber for the last three years, said the difficult decision is the right one for him and his family.
“I must now make my health and well-being my number one priority,” Flanagan said. “As a result of the completion of a thorough rehabilitation and recovery program, which I believe is critically important, I anticipate missing the beginning of this year’s legislative session.”
In his absence, Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, will oversee the conference, which is transitioning to the minority.
Flanagan first acknowledged he had a problem with alcohol in August 2017. At the time, he revealed he had completed a treatment program and said the leadership role he assumed in 2015 had exacerbated the problem.
“No man or woman is perfect, but it does not mean we all shouldn’t strive for continuous and daily improvement. I will attempt to do that with every fiber in my body,” Flanagan said on Friday. “This brief period of time away is necessary for my overall well-being, but will in no way impact my ability to serve my conference or my constituents.”
Following the November elections, when Senate Republicans lost eight seats and their conference shrunk to 23 members, Flanagan survived a leadership challenge from Sen. Catharine M. Young, a Republican from Livingston County.
Flanagan has served in the Legislature since winning election to the Assembly in 1986 at age 25 after the sudden death of his father, who had served in the chamber for more than a dozen years. Flanagan won his Senate seat in 2002.
This content was originally published here.