GLENS FALLS — After more than three decades in politics, state Sen. Betty Little has decided to call it a career.
Little, R-Queensbury, announced at City Hall on Thursday morning that she would not seek re-election to a 10th two-year term in 2020.
Little said it has been a privilege to represent the 45th Senate District and considers herself very lucky and fortunate.
“This is a difficult day for me, very, very difficult, because I have absolutely loved every single moment of what I have done,” she said in front of her family, friends and other elected officials. “I have loved the constituents — the people in our district. Everybody worked so hard to improve their own lives and to improve the lives of the people in their community and improve the community, but it’s time.”
Little has sponsored hundreds of new laws. She said among her greatest accomplishments was approval of five state constitutional amendments to address matters related to the Adirondack Park. This included creating a 250-acre land bank for use by local governments so land could be removed from the preserve under certain conditions, such as installing water, sewer and telecommunication lines along the roadside, without approval by voters.
“We worked together on major initiatives to protect clean water and the natural environment while fostering more vibrant communities,” said Willie Janeway, director of the Adirondack Council, an environmental organization, in a news release.
“The senator was always willing to explain her position and seek opportunities to work together, even when we didn’t always agree,” Janeway said.
Other accomplishments she mentioned were preserving environmentally sensitive grasslands, combating invasive species and protecting private property by raising the standard for adverse possession claims.
Little acknowledged it has been difficult this term to be in the minority, but mentioned her close relationship with Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and her ability to work across the aisle.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2002, Little served in the Assembly. She was voted in through a special election in 1995 to replace James King, who resigned to become a judge.
Little started her political career as a Queensbury at-large county supervisor. Before getting into politics, she was a teacher. She also was a real estate agent.
Next year will mark her 25th year in the Legislature.
“As my youngest son said: ‘Mom, that’s pretty good for a third act.’”
Little thanked her constituents and her family for their support. She said she would spend time in retirement with her six children and 18 grandchildren.
Accolades poured in for Little after the announcement.
Mayor Dan Hall, a Democrat, said Little was very accessible and receptive to the city’s requests.
Little advocated for funding for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the Civic Center and the Glens Falls Senior Center.
EDC Warren County President Edward Bartholomew called Little a “superb” person and lawmaker.
“She conducted herself as something that the public could respect — just in her accessibility, her willingness to listen and to compromise to get something done for an individual organization, for an individual community or for the region — whether it’s the Adirondack Park Agency to lessen some of their stringent regulations to her continued advocacy for coverage for cell and broadband,” he said.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, praised Little.
“Betty Little truly sets the bar for her tireless and effective public service to her constituents,” Stefanik said in a news release. “Our community has watched in awe as Betty dedicated decades of her life to representing the hardworking families of upstate New York. I often get asked about women in politics, and I always proudly point to our local icon Betty Little who quietly shattered glass ceilings before it was hailed by the media.”
“She has been a tremendous role model for so many. I am proud to call her a legislative partner and friend. The North Country is tremendously grateful for her service and sacrifice. I wish Betty and her entire family all the best in this next chapter. She has earned it,” Stefanik said.
Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, said it has been wonderful working with Little for the last seven years. He said she was a tremendous teacher for him.
“It was very helpful explaining all sides of an issue that she may have been looking at a lot longer,” he said.
Stec said he tries to emulate how hardworking and accessible Little is. She is well respected in both chambers on both sides of the aisle, and in the governor’s office, he said.
“They think very highly of her. She’s trusted. She’s everything that a public servant ought to be. We’ve been lucky to have her all these years,” he said.
Warren County Democratic Chairwoman Lynn Boecher said she has been friends with Little for many years despite their political differences.
“I want to publicly commend her for her strong record of constituent service and really for our dedication and commitment to our region,” she said. “I want to thank her on behalf of the Warren County Democrats and wish her well on a well-earned retirement.”
Boecher said Little brought civility and class to the political discussion.
“She always maintained, certainly her party voice, but she did it without acrimony and she represented everyone,” she said.
Boecher said she is not surprised that Little decided to retire at this time, given the acrimonious state of political at the national level.
“I’m not surprised that someone with her integrity would have difficulty with the change that we’re all seeing,” she said.
Source: The Post Star