Assemblyman Vito Lopez made his first public appearance in Albany on Monday afternoon since news that he allegedly harassed his former staff members broke this summer, taking his seat on the floor of the Assembly.
Lopez told reporters he intended to finish out his two-year term, but would not step aside based on the results of any ongoing investigations. He confirmed he has been thinking about running for the New York City Council, but said he is leaning against it because of concerns about his health.
“I don’t want to walk away from people I represent – I was elected in my district,” he said.
Lopez is currently undergoing additional cancer treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, but he did not specify what kind of cancer. He has suffered from leukemia and esophageal cancer in the past, had his thyroid removed three years ago, and fought off a bout of pneumonia this summer, when news about the sex scandal broke.
Lopez would not comment on any ongoing investigations, and shrugged off losing his parking space, having his seat in the Assembly moved, and his office downsized by Speaker Sheldon Silver amid the scandal, saying they were never that important.
“Why did I come here in the wake of intense chemotherapy?” he said. “People thought I was crazy. But if you had a job to do, what would you do?”
Lopez missed a chance to cast his vote for speaker last week, but said that even if he were there, he wouldn’t necessarily have voted for Silver.
“That would have been a decision I would have had to make at that time,” Lopez said. “I believe in something called due process.”
Lopez stayed in the chambers long after the Assembly recessed for the evening and caught up with several Brooklyn colleagues, including Assemblyman Dov Hikind.