CATSKILL — Two local officials who have spent nearly four decades in politics have announced they will not be seeking re-election this November.
William Lawrence, R-Cairo, and Larry Gardner, D-Hunter, are saying goodbye to the Greene County Legislature this fall.
“You’ve probably heard the famous Lincoln quote, ‘I suppose it’s time to go, though I would rather stay,’” Lawrence said Friday. “That’s how it is. It’s been a good run, I enjoyed myself immensely and now it’s time for younger people to take over.”
Lawrence has served on the board for 35 years, with a brief hiatus from 1988-90 when he served as Cairo town supervisor.
The former school teacher said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family.
“It will be hard to do without,” he said, referring to his political career. “Politics gets in your blood.”
Lawrence described the 15 years he spent serving with Harry Lennon, D-Cairo, fondly.
“We didn’t always agree on things but we always put Cairo No. 1,” he said. “We tried to keep in lockstep with whatever is good for us is good for Cairo and whatever is good for Cairo is good for us ... I think I leave the county better than I found it.”
Lennon will seek re-election in the fall.
“I thought we were a very good team and always put Cairo first in everything that we did,” Lennon said. “We got along very well right from the start. We’re going to miss him.”
Gardner, another well-seasoned legislator with nearly 40 years of service, will have more time to focus on his law practice.
When asked what he would do with his free time, Gardner laughed.
“There really isn’t much free time,” he said. “I’m very busy in my legal practice and I believe all of that time will be consumed by other work.”
Charles Martinez, R-Coxsackie, another senior lawmaker, agreed.
“That man is busy,” he said. “He’s a busy, busy person. For Bill, I hope he has a healthy retirement and hope he enjoys himself. They’re both good people. Even though Larry is a Democrat, it doesn’t matter. You’re doing the people’s work and that’s what it’s about.”
Gardner said he plans to “ride into the sunset quietly.”
“I believe I’ve accomplished a lot there,” he said. “I very much appreciated the support I’ve had from people in the district for 40 years. I simply think it’s time for someone else to hopefully do a very good job for the district and the county.”
It is unclear whose names will ultimately be on the ballot this fall, but several contenders have emerged.
Gardner said Hunter Town Supervisor Daryl Legg is being eyed as the Democratic candidate, and Charlotte Meigs may be selected as the Republican choice.
Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne and Cairo Development Foundation Co-president Sherry True have announced their intent to run. Other possible contenders include Michael Camadine, Bill Scheriff and Joe Colangelo, Lawrence said.
“My advice to every person running for office is don’t take it personally,” Lawrence said. “Everyone has a different opinion about how an issue should be solved. Number two, when making a decision or voting on a resolution, don’t lose any sleep over it. If you believe in what you’re voting on, you should sleep like a baby.”
Gardner encouraged his undetermined successor to stay in touch with the community.
“Just keep the finger on the pulse of the district and represent the district to the best of your ability,” he said.
Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said the two lawmakers will be missed.
“I’ve called on both of them multiple times because of the experience that they have,” he said. “They are a valuable resource that is going to be missed on the Legislature. I’m not happy to see either one of them go. I thank both of them for their many, many years of service to residents.”
Martinez, a long-time public servant, said he intends to run for another term, hinting that it may be his last.
“I think this will be it,” he said. “I’m 83 years old. I’ll probably have to go down in a wheelchair if I go any further.”
Lawrence and Martinez were both elected for their first terms in 1980, with Gardner following close behind.
“It’s going to be different without those two individuals, that’s for sure,” he said.