After nearly 30 years serving in the New York State Assembly, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced Monday, Feb. 12 that he will not be seeking re-election this fall.
Mr. Thiele, 70, who prior to being elected in 1995 to serve in the State Assembly had been a Southampton Town Supervisor and Suffolk County Legislator, has become known throughout his tenure for his dedication to protecting the environment and his support of local governments on the East End and throughout the state.
“I have successfully run for public office 19 times and have served the East End in the State Assembly longer than any person in the history of New York State,” said Mr. Thiele in a statement Monday morning. “I now look forward to other opportunities to serve the community that has been home to my family for almost 200 years.”
“Government service was my dream from my days as a student in elementary school in Sag Harbor when I 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,'” he added. “Being chosen by my neighbors to be their representative has truly been the greatest honor of my professional life.”
Mr. Thiele is widely known as the author of the 1998 legislation that created the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF), which asked voters to decide whether to create land preservation funds in each of the five East End towns that have since raised more than $2 billion for preservation of open space, farmland, historic preservation and water quality projects, funded through a 2 percent real estate transfer tax.
He recently crafted the legislation creating the Peconic Bay Community Housing Fund, modeled after the CPF, which provided funding for attainable housing on the East End through a .5 percent real estate transfer tax. Voters approved the funding in public referendums in the towns of East Hampton, Southampton, Southold and Shelter Island in 2022.
Mr. Thiele is also the longtime chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Local Governments, where he has been a vocal advocate for the concept of “home rule,” respecting and advocating for the rights of self-determination by local governments.
He has also long been critical of the Long Island Power Authority’s contract with a private third party administrator, PSEG-Long Island, and co-chairs the Legislative Commission on the Future of the Long Island Power Authority, which is seeking to make LIPA a true “public utility.”
Mr. Thiele was first elected as a Republican to the Assembly in a special election in March 1995 to fill a seat vacated by Assemblyman John Behan of Montauk, a Marine veteran and longtime advocate for veterans, who passed away last year.
Mr. Thiele, an attorney, ran on the Independence Party beginning in 2009, caucusing with the Democratic majority in Albany, and then ran as a Democrat when the Independence Party lost its ballot line in 2022. He routinely garnered upwards of 60 percent of the vote each two-year cycle.
His district, initially the Second Assembly District, became the First Assembly District prior to the 2012 election, and long included the towns of East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island and southern Brookhaven. After redistricting following the 2020 census, as of 2022 the district now includes all of Southold Town, and no longer includes the Southampton hamlets of Riverside and Northampton.
“I will always be indebted to my predecessor, the late John Behan, who gave me the chance to come home and begin my professional life,” said Mr. Thiele, who had served as legal counsel to Mr. Behan after coming home from law school. “A true American hero, John’s life was an example to all on what it means to be a leader.”
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