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Assembly Colleagues Wish Goodell Well In Retirement

Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, thanks colleagues in the state Assembly for their well wishes as he wrapped up his final day in the Assembly on June 7.

There was 10 minutes of debate on June 8 over legislation allowing snowmobiles on some roads in Bemus Point.

Lawmakers didn’t really care about the bill, per se. It passed, 139-1, and will be sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul for her approval.

But for 10 minutes, legislators took turns wishing Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, a happy retirement as the final bill the Republican Assemblyman was sponsoring in the Assembly came up for its vote.

Some of the messages were short and sweet, like that of Joe Angelino, R-Binghamton.

“I rise to explain my vote,” Angelino said. “For as long as I live, one of the most profound things I will be able to say is I served in the New York State Legislature with the great Andy Goodell. I’ll vote yes.”

Other messages were longer. Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston Spa, said there are many Goodell stories she couldn’t tell on the Assembly floor. She was told to find Goodell when she took her seat in the Assembly because Goodell would be a good resource for the young representative.

Walsh, who is no stranger to floor debates in the Assembly, said she is amazed by the work Goodell has done as minority leader pro tempore in leading floor debates. It is often Goodell who debates sponsors of bills in the Assembly or, if there is no debate, gives a recommendation on the bill being considered. Two of the most familiar voices in the Assembly belong to Goodell and Jeffrion Aubry, D-Corona and speaker pro tem. Both will be retired when the next legislative session begins in January.

“This is not a wake, I understand that,” Walsh said. “But you know, I will really really miss him. There’s something about hearing your voice Mr. Aubry and hearing Andy and just, you know, that whole rhythm and flow of this place. That is the only thing I’ve known since I’ve been here and it’s going to be changed, so it’s hard. But (Goodell)’s got a boat to work on and he’s got a lovely wife and children and grandchildren and things to do. I’m happy for him and I’m sad for us, but wish you all the best. I have learned so much, but we’ll never really be able to feel those shoes.

Walsh mentioned Goodell’s floor debates, particularly the book Goodell kept near his desk on the Assembly floor that contained a copy of the state constitution.

Ed Ra, R-Garden City, also mentioned Goodell’s arguments over a bill’s constitutionality. Goodell was one of the first people Ra met after being elected, with Ra’s office being across the hall from Goodell’s for the first seven years they served together. Ra later sat near Goodell on the Assembly floor as well as taking on additional floor debates the past couple of years.

“I watch all of you whether you’re on our side of the aisle or on the other side of the aisle coming over and saying, ‘Hey why do you lay my bill aside?’ But he approaches it with care, with compassion, and really just wants to help make the bill the best it can be for the residents of this state. There’s truly nobody like him. I will, I think, with pride in the future look for opportunities to raise New York state constitutional issues on his behalf … I think he just handed that book to Mary Beth (Walsh) … We’re going to have to label the Andy Goodell Constitutional Constitution book so we can refer to it on our floor debates.”

The story of Goodell’s stolen car was brought up a couple of times as the discussion took on the atmosphere of an Irish wake. Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Albion, said it’s commonly asked whether or not an insurance company has to cover a car theft if the keys had been left in the car. Hawley said he knows the answer – because his insurance company paid when Goodell’s car was stolen from an Albany parking garage in 2022.

“I just want to say there will never by another Andy Goodell here in these chambers,” Hawley said. “The shoes are huge to fill. And there’s never been anyone like him before as well. To Andy I say to you, my friend, the best of luck. I love you.”

Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Catskill, joked that he isn’t sure if he will find another member of the Assembly who likes to order dessert when they go out for dinner after the day’s session has concluded. On a serious note, he gave credit to Goodell for helping teach Tague the ropes as a young member of the Assembly. Tague was among the legislators who came to Chautauqua County for a tour of some area farms, something Tague mentioned with fondness.

“I appreciate your friendship and support for as long as I’ve been here,” Tague said. “I don’t know if I can say anything any better than Joe (Giglio) or Mr. Hawley, but I just want to say thank you. I think everybody in this chamber owes you a great debt of gratitude and so do the people in New York state because you’ve always stuck up for what’s right and what’s fair and equitable and the constitution. God bless you and your family, my friend, I’m going to miss you.”

Goodell and Assemblyman Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda, shared countless hours traveling back and forth to Albany together during their respective tenures in the Assembly. Giglio was there the day Goodell’s car was stolen and, more recently, helped when Goodell needed a ride from Albany to Chautauqua County and back during another bout of car trouble. Fellow Assembly members laughed at Giglio’s recollection of the day Goodell’s car was stolen, particularly when Goodell had to call his wife and explain what had happened.

“I told him that the next morning I think we had a chance at a new career, ‘Dude, Someone Stole My Car,'” Giglio said. “Now that we’re both retiring together we’re going to do ‘Dude, Someone Stole May Car 2’ since we’ve got nothing else to do. I’ll say it one more time. From the day he started running to today, he is an amazing person. You guys think he’s smart. Of course, he’s smart. But his heart is unmatched, trust me. He is the kindest individual you will ever meet. He is kind, compassionate and caring and he will give me some points for being compassionate, because he and I have had this discussion off and on. I can say unequivocally I am much a better person for having worked with Andy Goodell.”

Before Tague spoke, Goodell jokingly asked Aubry to call the next bill for discussion before taking a minute to thank his colleagues for their kind words. With his voice cracking at times as his time in the Assembly chamber wound down, Goodell thanked the staff who has helped him through the years as well as Will Barclay, who tapped Goodell for the role of minority leader pro tempore. While Goodell’s colleagues gave the Jamestown resident credit for the quality and number of debates he has led in the Assembly, Goodell deflected that praise to the staff who research issues, prepare questions and make sure Assembly protocols are followed with the bills Goodell was handling.

And while some debates over the years have been difficult ones, Goodell had a final word of praise for his fellow Assembly members in both the minority and the majority.

“From the bottom of my heart, it has been such an honor to be with you and to see people from all across New York state come together here in Albany with the best intentions to make our state better,” Goodell said. “All of you have been entrusted by your voters in each of your districts and each of you have brought your own experience and your own knowledge and your own perspective, all with the focus of making this a better state. What could be better than being able to come up here and see the sun rise here in albany with you except, of course, seeing the sun rise with my wife. … From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for letting me be with you.”

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