Remembering James Conte

Filed under: Around Town,Local News,Politics |

With a heavy heart we report that James Conte passed away.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Conte family. 

The Town of Huntington lost one of the most dedicated officials when Assemblyman James Conte passed away on October 16, 2012.

Assemblyman Conte was a life-long resident of Huntington Station where he was born on January 1, 1959.  He attended St. Hugh of Lincoln Elementary School, Huntington High School and graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science.

He dedicated so much of his life working on state-wide and local issues of concern to Long Islanders.  Assemblyman Conte was a strong voice in Albany on behalf of his constituents.

Because of his leadership and vast knowledge of statewide legislative issues, Assemblyman Conte was named Minority Leader Pro Tempore for the 2010 Legislative Session where he led his conference in Assembly floor debates.

He served as a member of the Assembly Committees on Health, Higher Education, and Labor.

Having grown up on the north shore, Assemblyman Conte’s dedication to Long Island’s rich coastal heritage was the reason he was appointed as one of New York’s members to the Bi-State Long Island Sound Marine Resources Commission to work with Connecticut Legislators on protecting and preserving our shared waterway.  He also represented Long Island as a member of the New York/New
Jersey C.O.A.S.T. (Coastal Ocean and Shore Trust) Committee.

Being the recipient of a kidney transplant, Assemblyman Conte made a personal commitment to champion the cause for greater awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation.   He authored many new laws to promote the need for New Yorkers to become organ and tissue donors and had sponsored legislation to create a Gift of Life Trust Fund and statewide organ donor registry.

In October of 1997, he was appointed by Governor Pataki to the New York State Transplant Council. The Council advised the Commissioner on Health matters relating to organ procurement organizations (OPOs), banks and storage facilities and other issues relating to the procurement, storage, allocation, distribution and transplantation of organs and tissue.

Assemblyman Conte was an outspoken advocate for children, victim’s rights and state educational issues.

Jim leaves behind his wife Debra and his children Sarah Ashley, Jeffrey James and Samantha Irene.

The Huntington Republican Committee made the following statement, “It is with heavy heart we announce the passing of a valued person and dear friend, Assemblyman James D. Conte. Jim, as he was known to the community, served the residents of Huntington for the past 24 years. He will live on in our hearts and minds and we thank him for all his years of tireless service”.

Last July Assemblyman Conte announced that he would not be seeking reelection this November due to health reasons. Below is the statement he made at that time:

As many of you know, I am a two-time kidney transplant recipient and have had my kidney for over twenty years. I have been on a regimen of immunosuppressive, anti-rejection drugs, medications which slow my immune system and over time have the side effect of causing cancer. I was diagnosed with T-cell melanoma a year and a half ago. Recently, I learned that the cancer had spread. I have been receiving intensive chemotherapy treatments at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and will continue on this course for the next several weeks.
While my health has improved over the last several days, I have realized that in order to fully recover, I must devote my full energies to regaining my strength and beating this disease. After speaking at length with my family, I have decided not to run for re-election this November. This decision was very hard for me, but after twenty-four years of dedicated public service and fighting for the people of the 10th Assembly district, I feel that it is now time to take all my energy and battle something much more personal.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my caring friends and colleagues both on Long Island and in Albany. I will miss my role as Minority Leader Pro Tempore, but will miss my “Albany Family” so much more. I want to thank my colleagues on Long Island for the many years of loving support, but especially now during this very difficult time.
I want to thank the people of the 10th Assembly District. I am humbled and honored to have served as your Assemblyman for over two decades. Thank you for your confidence in me from the beginning until now. I ask that you keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers.
These last few weeks have been a very difficult time for my family. A diagnosis of cancer places tremendous strains on one’s family and I know I could not continue this fight without the enduring love and amazing strength of my wife, Debbie, who has been my rock for 24 years, and continues to provide me with the physical, mental and emotional strength I need every day. I want to thank my three remarkable children, Sarah, Jeffrey and Samantha. You all show me daily the reason I need to focus on beating cancer. I love you and am so very proud of you.
As my health continues to improve, I look forward to starting a new chapter in my life but will never stray far from Huntington Station and the people who have given me joy and a loving home.

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