After more than 36 years of service, Colonie GOP Chairman Harry D’Agostino decided to pass the baton, effective Friday, July 31.
D’Agostino, 78. said he `would have stepped down a couple years ago,` although he decided to stay on as chairman after the party lost the 2007 Colonie Town Supervisor election when Democrat Paula Mahan beat incumbent Mary Brizzell. With that election, Democrats won the majority in the Town Board for the first time in decades.
His goal was to put together a party slate that would bring victory for the GOP in 2009, which D’Agostino said, `We’ve done all that, second to none.` Now, D’Agostino said all of the campaign literature and planning is complete from now through November, so he saw it as the perfect time to have someone younger take on the role.
`[My job] is never done, but you need somebody younger, and I’m not going to live forever,` he said.
During his tenure as chairman, 36 years and seven months to be exact, he said, his most proud and memorable moments came with the victories of GOP candidates.
`Everyone has their own different little thing, and each one you’re happy about as a leader,` he said. `I think the thing that you’re most proud of is all the different candidates who’ve come along and we’ve nurtured.`
D’Agostino said one of the more interesting things to watch time and again was candidates going from the Town Board to the New York State Legislature, and then back down to Town Board.
Not all party members agreed that this was a good time for him to step down, D’Agostino said.
`Everyone will tell you, ‘This is not a good time.’ They’ll say, ‘Change is bad.’ Change is OK,` he said. `You just gotta know the right time, and I think this is the right time and the right atmosphere.`
D’Agostino said he is confident that the slate the party has prepared, with Michael Hoblock as the chosen candidate for town supervisor, is a strong one, and that the party will transition smoothly under new leadership.
`I think the party’s in good shape and everything’s all laid out. All we gotta do is follow the game plan until November,` he said.
Hoblock, a former Albany County Executive and former chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said that while he would have liked to see D’Agostino continue on as Colonie’s GOP chairman, it is not unexpected for him to step down now and that he will be missed.
`It certainly ends an era of importance for the Town of Colonie,` said Hoblock. `I think after having served those number of years, you would think at any time, someone is going to say, ‘You know, I’ve had enough,’ and I think that’s where Harry is.`
But Hoblock said D’Agostino has helped provide him the tools needed to help move the party forward in this and upcoming years, including advice to Hoblock himself.
D’Agostino, whose wife died in June, said he will be using his time to continue to practice law at his firm, D’Agostino, Hoblock, Flannery, Jeram, P.C., and spend more time with his grandchildren, who live in Florida and Texas.
`I have to be a nanny and a poppy now,` he said.
A search committee will be formed to help choose a new GOP leader, according to D’Agostino, who said that the search committee will be looking at candidates from within and outside of the committee to take the role. D’Agostino also said he would be more than willing to sit down with whoever is chosen and talk to them about their new leadership role in the town so that they can go into the position `with their eyes open.`
Until a full-time chairperson is chosen, D’Agostino said Vice Chairwoman Elizabeth DelTorto, who is also the Colonie Town Clerk, will step in.“