Sen. James Alesi, a Perinton Republican who is not running for re-election this year, gave a well-received farewell speech late last night, just before the legislative session came to a close for 2012.
Alesi, who received national attention by becoming the first GOP senator to back same-sex marriage last year, mixed personal reflections with some whimsical anecdotes, receiving a standing ovation before he was embraced by fellow western New York Sen. George Maziarz.
“I hadn’t thought about speaking at what feels like my own wake here,” Alesi said. “But in a way, it is. You don’t get to do that when you’re really gone.”
Alesi was first elected to the Senate in 1996, and served in the Assembly for the four years prior. He had received pushback from the state Conservative Party for his same-sex marriage vote, as well as criticism for an ill-advised lawsuit he filed against a constituent after he broke his leg while trespassing.
“I think for the most part I’ve been pretty good at being a senator. Not perfect. We all have moments in our careers or in our personal lives where we wish we could go back, but we don’t get that chance,” he said last night. “So what we do is as we’re moving forward, we do a better job. Right now, as I look at this Senate and I look at the way this institution has recovered, we are doing a better job.”
Video of Alesi’s speech can be found below. Other end-of-session speeches from Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Minority Leader John Sampson and retiring Sen. Tom Duane