New York State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward displays a picture from the Ragin River exhibit to Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas and Keene Supervisor William Ferebee.
While working on the family farm 32 years ago, Teresa Sayward wanted something to do away from the fields and livestock, so she joined the Willsboro Zoning Board of Appeals and served as chair.
“I had to get out and do something, so I did that,” she recalled.
Sayward is now preparing to leave the world of public service after 11 years on the ZBA followed by terms as Willsboro supervisor for 11 years, chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors and 10 years as the state assemblywoman for what is now the 114th district.
“It has been a wonderful trip for me,” she said. “I like being able to help people wade through the minutia that there is in government.”
Sayward said that she has mostly been working to ensure a smooth transition Jan. 1, when Queensbury Supervisor and Warren County chair Dan Stec takes over.
“In every election year it gets a little slow between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said. “Most of the questions that we are getting now are due to the budget issues. I have been saving everything for Mr. Stec, and he has been in the office and we have been doing some briefings so he can hit the ground running so people will not notice a change.”
Sayward said that she feels the transition will be a smooth one.
“My legislative director is staying with Dan so he will have somebody who understands the issues and how to do things like introducing bills,” she said. “He should be pretty well positioned.”
Sayward also had advice for her replacement.
“I hope that he gets out and serves the constituency,” she said. “Betty Little really set the bar. She really got out to the towns and people. I followed suit, and I hope Dan can do the same. You have to remember that you now have bigger fish to fry and you have a diverse district from Queensbury to the tiny little towns. You are dealing with small farmers and big business at the same time.”
Sayward said that she has been wrapping up her term with trips to Glens Falls and participating in events, but that she was looking forward to taking a trip south with her husband, Kenneth, on Dec. 27.
As she prepared to exit office, Sayward said she hoped she was able to convey a sense of fairness with those she worked with.
“I hope people feel that I was fair and honest in my doing with my constituents,” she said. “Our office always had a 24 hour rule to get back to people within those 24 hours.”
Sayward also said that she was honest in the political arena as well, showing support across the aisle to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as endorsing Congressman Bill Owens in the last election.
“I have never voted straight party lines and I would say that a lot of people have not,” she said. “I think that the world is changing and I have not been happy where I have seen some of the candidates have gone too far to the right. I have to be true to myself and true to what I believe in.”
Sayward plans to still be active in the Albany arena and will look to serve as a lobbyist in a year, a waiting period mandated by the state.
“I have asked to be on a ot of boards and I don’t want to jump into anything,” she said. “I want to make sure that I can handle whatever I do. There are a lot of things that we need to do. We need to get all the parties together and make some changes to the state’s unit management plan. Getting some of these things on track is one of my main issues.”
For now, Sayward plans to work with NYCO for second passage of a land swap deal that would keep the company in business in Willsboro.
“I am going to be working with NYCO minerals without pay — I would never take money from them — to try and see that constitutional amendment through,” she said. “I have been working on this for 10 years and I am not going to stop until it goes through.”
Overall, Sayward said that while she will no longer be in office, she would not be leaving the political arena entirely.
“I want to stay active,” she said. “I couldn’t just go home and not do anything. You have to keep the brain active and keep involved in something.
“Also, I want to do a little traveling and I am going to have a bigger garden.”