By Rich Place
Surrounded by supporters on the front steps of the East Aurora Village Hall, Luke Wochensky, a Colden native and SGI graduate, announced his candidacy Tuesday for the 147th district of the New York State Assembly.
Now an East Aurora resident, Wochensky said he took 18 hours on Monday visiting all 30 towns in the district and talked to a handful of residents including farmers, students, small business owners and local government leaders.
During a speech announcing his candidacy, Wochensky repeated a mantra that is evident in his political logo, on his website and throughout his young campaign: he cares about small rural communities and is ready to take on the challenges they face.
“We need a positive and independent voice for our small towns who can get things done,” he said.
He admitted he “really, really, really” likes rural Western New York, a place he said he is “fortunate” to be able to call home. He graduated from SGI in 1998 and graduated from Union College and Ohio State University before going on to earn a law degree from Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia in St. Petersburg.
“I’m fortunate to still have my family here, still have friends I knew when I was as young as my son, Motvey,” he said. “But I’m a little bit disconcerting because a lot of those friends are not able to live here in the district where they want to live.
“We need to work together to ensure the young people can stay here and make a good living,” he continued. “We need to work together to ensure that our communities receive the resources they need and deserve. We need to work together to ensure our Main streets are receiving the loving care they need to thrive. And we need to work together to protect and preserve our precious agricultural lands and natural resources.”
With his college degree, Wochensky pursued a legal career as an attorney and partner with an international firm representing American and European companies abroad before returning home to the Aurora/Colden area.
During his tour of the district on Monday, Wochensky said he discovered a common theme amongst many of those he met with.
“All of them have the same concerns: they are passionate about their small towns, passionate about their communities,” he said. “They have passionate residents but they are fighting against the odds. We need to find innovative ways to restore our historic village centers and work to find ways to put life back into some of our greatest local institutions.”
Wochensky is seeking to unseat Assemblyman David DiPietro, who was elected in 2012. The 147th district includes the southern portion of Erie County and all of Wyoming County.
“What I heard from people throughout the district yesterday strengthened my resolve to win this election and become your next New York state assemblymember,” Wochesnky said. “Over the next several months I will prove to all of you that I am willing and able to put in the hard work that it requires to properly do this job. We will push the issues that actually really affect our daily lives.”
Wochensky lives in the village of East Aurora with his wife, Katya, and son, Motvey.
His campaign has launched social media pages at facebook.com/lukeforny, on Twitter @lukeforny and a website, lukeforny.com.