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Local lawmakers remember Assemblyman Gary Finch after passing at 79 years old

A longtime member of New York State Assembly who represented the Auburn area, Cayuga County, and Central New York has passed away.

Gary Finch, 79, retired from office in 2020. He served 10 terms in office.

He represented the 126th District, which included Auburn and parts of Cayuga County.

“Gary Finch was a true gentleman and dear friend, and I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing. He retired from the Assembly three years ago, but his death evokes a deep sense of loss for our Conference and the entire state Legislature,” Minority Leader Will Barclay said in a statement. “He loved his home region of Cayuga County and proudly served his community long before becoming a member of the state Assembly. His intelligence and charm were rare traits in Albany’s often-contentious political climate, and he was deeply respected by members on both sides of the aisle.”

Barclay said serving with Finch provided some of the most valuable lessons he learned during his career. State Sen. Pam Helming echoed that sentiment in a statement released after learning of Finch’s passing.

“He spent so much time teaching me and showing me the ropes. Whether it was sitting at the back of the Assembly providing guidance on language for the Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act, or sitting in his beautiful historic home in Cayuga County strategizing about how best to help local businesses and homeowners impacted by flooding — he gave freely of his time, was patient with my questions, and always kind, helpful and gracious,” Helming said. “I remember sitting with Gary in my car for more than two hours while he brought me up to date on local ‘politics’. He was the first state representative who showed me he believed I could be successful. Gary used to say I didn’t have to worry about filling someone else’s shoes — I just had to walk in my own.”