By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Though they were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, retiring state Senator Jim Seward, R-Milford, always knew he could reach across the aisle to Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-121.
“Bill was always among my first calls when I needed an assembly sponsor for legislation that would help our area,” he said. “And he never hesitated to join me As legislators representing overlapping districts, Assemblyman Magee and I worked together on a regular basis to address the shared needs of our constituents.”
Magee, who served in the State Assembly for 28 years, years, died Thursday, Dec. 24 at age 81.
He was elected as NY state Assemblyman in 1990, and was soon given a reputation as an advocate for farmers, serving as chair of the Agricultural committee.
“[Magee] was a huge asset to the [agricultural] community,” said Darin Hickling, NY District 9 Farm Bureau Director. “He was a huge help to and supporter of the Farm Bureau; he was always there for us – his contributions can’t be measured.”
Magee also ran an auction house, and frequently donated his auctioneering skills to Farm Bureau Benefits.
“He was a personable, approachable and regular guy,” Hickling said. “It was great to talk with him. You could go to him about any issue and – more often than not – he already knew about and was working on it.”
In 2018, after 28 years in office, Magee, then 79, lost his re-election bid to Republican John Salka after the third contest between the pair.
“[Magee] fought hard for farmers, business and the general public alike,” Assembly- man Salka said. “He was down to earth, understood the issues and was one of the most bipartisan people. I certainly had big shoes to fill when I came into the position.”
Salka has said he plans to attend the funeral services later this week.
“It is only respectful,” Salka said. “He was a good man and a family friend; even though we were opponents we had mutual respect for one another.”
Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh expressed her condolences at Monday’s Trustee’s board meeting. “He was a perfect, unassuming gentleman who always delivered and wasn’t shy about knowing more,” Tillapaugh said. “The assembly district lost a great politician who always put his constituents first and worked tirelessly on their behalf. His nearly three decades of service will live on through a number of projects.”