And then there were two.
The Schenectady County Legislature’s minority party is down to two members, as Legislator Grant Socha, a recently elected Conservative, announced Wednesday that he is leaving the Legislature’s minority Republican caucus to join the Democratic majority caucus.
“I was elected because of my common sense principles,” he said in a news release. “I will continue to be a proud enrolled member of the Conservative Party, and I would never allow the values that I live by to be compromised. I believe that my constituents and I can benefit from being part of the majority caucus, and I believe the caucus can benefit from my ideas and opinions.”
Socha, who is vice president of Socha Management, joins Conservative legislators Randy Pascarella and Holly Vellano, who already caucus with the Democrats.
Socha was elected in November to represent residents of Glenville, Niskayuna and Scotia.
He ran on a Republican ticket and unseated incumbent Democrat Martin Finn, who had served on the Legislature since 2008.
Socha was 26 at the time of his election and became the Legislature’s youngest member in January.
“I feel I can have a more impactful role and address concerns within my district by working with the parties in majority control,” he said. “It is time to work together.”
Jim Buhrmaster, the Republican minority leader, said he received a call from Socha about his decision Wednesday morning, but was disappointed Socha did not speak with him beforehand.
“It’s his decision. He was elected by the people,” he said. “The only thing is, he was elected by the people looking for change, and by joining the Democratic caucus, that’s not going to exhibit that much change.”
Buhrmaster said he expects to continue to have an open dialogue with Socha.
“He has conservative values, and I hope he expresses those in the caucus,” he said.
Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle, a Republican, said people want to see a more balanced Legislature, and “this doesn’t help that.” The November election saw two Republicans, Socha and Brian McGarry, gain seats.
“I hear it’s crowded in that room,” Koetzle joked. “I don’t know why they need another person in there.”
But he also said he respects Socha’s decision.
“I know him well enough to know he has the interests of the people he represents close to his heart, and we’ll continue to work together,” he said.