Plattsburgh Emotions flooded Teresa Sayward as she watched her son Glenn marry his longtime partner Ben.
As the veteran Assemblywoman announces her retirement, she said her most significant moment as a lawmaker was supporting gay marriage in New York state. The move drew criticism, especially from some of her Republican colleagues, but she said it was the right thing to do and changed many lives.
“This has been truly the best experience I have ever had in my life,” Sayward said in Plattsburgh at the Legislative Breakfast Friday, March 2, a day after announcing her retirement. “It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been rewarding.
“We have done so many things, but the most significant thing I ever did was to become the first Republican to sign for the same-sex marriage bill.”
Sayward, 67, served a decade as Willsboro Town Supervisor before being elected to the 113th Assembly District in 2002. The district covers Hamilton and Warren counties, most of Essex County and part of Saratoga County.
She spoke with family recently, including her husband Kenneth, with whom she celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary, and decided it was the right time for her to retire.
She will step down at the end of the year.
“Teresa, you are leaving us wanting more,” said North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru, of the 114th Assembly District, called it a bittersweet day and a huge loss for the North Country.
She said she and Sayward have been friends since they were teenagers. Duprey also supported the same-sex marriage bill.
“She is one of the most respected members of the Assembly by both parties that sit in those chambers,” Duprey said.
State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, said she began admiring Sayward’s career when the latter was a supervisor in Willsboro.