I join community members across Upstate New York – friends and colleagues alike – to say: We will all miss Bill Magee.
His service to our communities was a lifelong passion and commitment. He worked across the political spectrum to deliver for his district and he did it without the fanfare many politicians expect to receive. He did it by acting on solutions to meet constituent needs, and not making promises he couldn’t fulfill.
I first met Bill Magee in 2013. I had an interest in public service and asked for his advice. He gave it. As we all knew about Bill – he did not add more words than needed, so his advice was short but still useful.
More than what he said to me he gave an example to follow. When I called his office to make an appointment, he set the appointment that day. I didn’t get any sort of , “I’ll get back to you.”
The day before our meeting a problem came up in his schedule. Instead of a staff member calling to reschedule, I got the call directly from Bill.
In short, I will miss Bill Magee. He served our district for many years, and as a result we have done better together. He also left us with many stories that we remember with a smile, and I suspect many reading this letter are thinking of theirs.
Going forward, I will remember Bill Magee as a friend and mentor, and whose example I hope to emulate.
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.”