After Decades in New York Senate, DeFrancisco Steps Down

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – One of the longest serving elected officials in central New York is retiring at the end of the month. State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) has some thoughts about how those who follow him can make politics a productive profession.

“I’m practicing retirement, and I think I’m going to be very good at it,” DeFrancisco said.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, speaks to members in the Senate Chamber gallery at the Capitol on the opening day of the legislative session on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

DeFransisco leaves public office after 41 years in local and state government, most of those years, in the state Senate. He plans on initially traveling and spending more time with his family, and said he’s content with his decision. What does rankle him on his way out though, is the way politics has become more divisive. He said he tried to create a congenial atmosphere on the floor of the Senate when he was floor leader.

“There was never any incivility on the floor of the Senate,” DeFrancisco said. “And there may be differences of opinion. I try to make it light and make people calm down if they are too strenuous in their position. People have to recognize that they have to act in a way to get things done.”

DeFransisco, a Republican, is proud of several initiatives he pushed through Albany, including starting an umbilical cord blood bank, and creation of Casey’s Place and Ophelia’s Place. As for the future, he’s concerned about the continued out-migration of taxpayers from New York State, at the same time a more liberal legislature is pushing expensive initiatives like a single-payer health insurance program.

“I’ll guarantee you within the first 100 days, there will be free college for illegal immigrants when we can’t provide enough college tuition to make it affordable for citizens of the state,” DeFrancisco said. “That’s the next thing. And there’s several others, whether it’s single-payer insurance. The more benefits mean fewer people paying for them. And what’s the way they vote? They vote with their feet and they leave.”

Looking back, he credits his longevity on his reputation as being a straight shooter.

“I’ll tell you what’s on my mind, and if you like it, great, and if you don’t want to vote for me that’s fine,” DeFrancisco said. “But at least people know that when I’m with them, I’m with them, 1,000 percent. If I don’t agree, I say that. I think many of the politicians I’ve seen over the 41 years, the ones that have not made it as long as I have, are ones that try to tell everybody what they want to hear. And nobody believes that.”

DeFransisco served in the state Senate for 26 years, most recently as deputy majority leader.