Ulster County Legislator Kathy Nolan submitted a resolution to formally censure Legislator Hector Rodriguez for sexual harassment at the Legislature’s Oct. 15 meeting, but the Legislature made the decision to postpone the vote.
Rodriguez had been asked to resign from his position by County Executive Pat Ryan on Oct. 4 after a private investigation revealed Rodriguez’s history of sexual harassment with female colleagues.
Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux, an Albany law firm, revealed in their investigation that after interviewing New Paltz Deputy Mayor Kathleen Tobin, three Ulster County Legislators and seven other women, Rodriguez was found guilty of inappropriate comments and unwanted physical action, both of which qualify as sexual harassment.
The investigation report was released on Oct. 4 and while Ryan gave a press release condemning this behavior on the same date, the County Legislature has not made a formal comment as a whole. The Village of New Paltz has also made a public statement supporting the resignation of Rodriguez.
“I think we haven’t made a formal enough statement as a legislative body about this and therefore women who had complaints may not feel that those complaints have been heard and responded to,” Nolan said.
The formal resolution submitted by Nolan, and sponsored by Lynn Eckert and Heidi Haynes, calls for a formal censure of Legislator Rodriguez. To censure the Legislator would include formally and publicly admonishing him for his actions which are not acceptable for the Legislature’s standards of behavior.
This inappropriate behavior included “multiple reports of forcible kissing” and “several reports of relentless unwanted and inappropriate communications,” according to an email sent by Tobin to the Ulster County Legislature on March 29.
“My primary intention in submitting the resolution was to stand with the women who have brought complaints about this Legislator’s behavior and to express the sense that I have that the Legislature should take a zero tolerance stance and state publicly that this behavior is unacceptable for a member of the Legislature,” Nolan said. “The legislature should have zero tolerance for sexual harassment both within our workplace and by legislators in their role outside of the county office buildings.”
While Rodriguez said that he will not be resigning from his role as legislator, as his term ends on Dec. 31, many members of the community have stated their belief that Rodriguez should resign.
“I am also calling for Legislator Rodriguez to resign and I think at this point that would be the optimal outcome even though he has a short time left in his term in office,” Nolan said.
The resolution to censure Rodriguez, Resolution No. 443, is currently in committee with the Laws and Rules, Governmental Services Committee. This committee’s roles include “to oversee Legislative policy” and “to review and maintain the Rules of the Legislature,” according to the Ulster County website.
Pending the resolution’s passage through the committee, the vote to censure Legislator Rodriguez will take place at the Legislature’s next regular meeting on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at the County Office Building in Kingston.