Assembly Member Fred Thiele will not seek re-election to the State Assembly this year.
Thiele announced his retirement in statement released today. His current term expires Dec. 31.
“I have successfully run for public office 19 times and have served the East End in the State Assembly longer than any other person in the history of New York State. I now look forward to other opportunities to serve the community that has been home to my family for almost 200 hundred years,” Thiele said in the announcement.
Thiele, 70, said his desire for a career in government service was sparked when, as an elementary school student, he “heard the call of President John F. Kennedy to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
After graduating from Albany Law School in 1979, Thiele served as counsel to then-Assembly Member John Behan of Montauk. In 1982, he was appointed Southampton town attorney. Thiele was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 1987 and then elected Southampton Town supervisor in 1991. He served as town supervisor until he was elected in a March 1995 special election to fill the Assembly seat vacated by Behan.
Thiele has been a passionate advocate for the environment throughout his career as a public official. As a county legislator, he chaired the Energy and Environment Committee and enacted legislation that nominated Peconic Bay and Gardiners Bay for the National Estuary Program.
As a member of the Assembly, Thiele authored legislation that created the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund Act, which authorized the five East End towns to establish dedicated funds, financed by a 2% real estate transfer tax, for land preservation and water quality protection. Since its inception by public referendum in 1999, the transfer tax has generated more than $2 billion for land preservation and water quality protection in the Peconic Bay region.
Thiele has also worked to establish the South Fork Commuter Connection, the region’s first multi-modal commuter system, an effort aimed at relieving traffic congestion on local highways.
He also authored legislation, enacted in 2019, to allow the Peconic Bay region towns to add a ½% transfer tax to fund community housing initiatives, which would provide as much as $20 million annually for financial assistance and new housing opportunities for local residents.
“At the end of this year, I will close this chapter of my life,” Thiele said in his statement. “I look forward to new beginnings. There will be new challenges and new ways to serve,” he said.
“Endings and beginnings are bittersweet. I am guided by the advice of Dr. Seuss. ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’”
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