Teresa Sayward has been an excellent representative for her district in the state Assembly. Garry Douglas, head of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, was right on when he said: "There's an old saying that when you go, you should leave them wanting more. That is certainly the case with Teresa Sayward."
Ms. Sayward has kept the bar high, traveling the district constantly, showing up as many places and listening to as many people as possible, while putting her own stamp on the job. She has been impressively independent - as exemplified by her major stand for gay marriage. Sayward frequently told the story of her son, how he grew up desperate to be "normal" and how she and her husband painfully came to accept his homosexuality. It was personal, but was much more than that: It mirrored a national turning of the tide.
But that was a small part of Ms. Sayward's work. As a former Willsboro shopkeeper, she was forthright in advocating for economic opportunities in Adirondack communities, sometimes confronting environmentalists in the process. But she also shared the average Adirondackers' care for the environment, as evidenced by her advocacy for seemingly mundane things like local sewer projects, which protect water quality. She pushed a small-town pragmatism that made a lot of sense.
Good on customer service, she has been available to her constituents - a very admirable trait. She had strong opinions but worked well with others, partly because she is amicable, respectful and respectable.
In a time when the state Legislature earned a reputation being dysfunctional, where too many lawmakers were so corrupt they went to prison even with lax self-created rules, Ms. Sayward was sometimes pointed to statewide as a model of ethics.
There is only one way in which she disappointed: Although she will leave the Assembly, she has been officially "retired" since she turned 65, collecting both a paycheck and a pension check. This double-dipping is unfortunately both legal and common, but it shouldn't be. You're either retired, or you're not.
Otherwise, Ms. Sayward is wished nothing but happiness and good luck in a very well earned retirement.
Meanwhile, pay attention to see who will replace her. There could be many qualified candidates, including some of the people who say they're thinking about it. Let's hope they live up to the standard set by their predecessor.