BINGHAMTON, NY – After a quarter century of representing portions of our area in Albany, Assemblyman Cliff Crouch has called it quits.
NewsChannel 34’s Jim Ehmke sat down with the retired Republican in the last days of his term to reflect on his career in the legislature.
“I’ve done my job as best as I could,” says Crouch.
Since taking his oath of office in November 1995, Crouch says he’s done his best to make every vote and attend every function.
As a member of the minority, he wasn’t allowed to introduce legislation on his own.
That’s where strong relationships with his Democratic colleagues became invaluable.
“Because they respected me, they would look at it. I’d say, ‘Take it. Put your name on it.’ So, we would move ahead and get legislation passed. It was under their name but yet I looked back and I said, ‘Well, I got that done.'”
Crouch has served on many important committees over the years, such as Ways and Means and Rules.
For a long time, the former dairy farmer from Bainbridge was the ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee where he worked collaboratively with the Democratic Chair.
But while passing laws is where the high stakes drama lies, helping constituents with their needs has been the most rewarding.
“It’s a wonderful feeling, quite frankly, to be able to affect people’s lives on that personal level.”
That’s included interceding on behalf of a constituent in a dispute with an insurance company.
Or helping business owners navigate the state’s byzantine structure of permits, licenses and regulations.
Crouch says another intractable problem is corruption. During his time, he’s seen more than a dozen colleagues, including the former Speaker of the Assembly and Senate Majority Leader, sent to prison.
“It’s pretty tough to root it out. You look at people and you’d like to think that they’re being honest but I was surprised over the years at the people who were arrested for wielding power.”
In the end, it’s the people he’s worked with that Crouch says he’ll miss the most. He says his own staff is like family to him.
And he says New Yorkers are well-served by the dedication of the legislature staff who were always available to provide information.
“They always made me look good. They put their families on hold, they were there 48 hours straight and did their job.”
As Crouch’s grandchildren grow older, he says he wants to devote more time to attending their games and recitals. Plus, spending more time with his wife Barbara.
“It was hard to talk to my constituents and say, ‘I’m going to give this up.’ I had people say, ‘You can’t quit, we need you there.’ That’s one of the hardest things for me to do to is to say, ‘I’ve got to quit.”
Crouch says it’s been his job to carry the voice of the people to Albany.
“It’s been an honor to serve, an honor to represent the people here in the Southern Tier.”
Former Norwich Police Chief Joe Angelino won the race to replace Crouch and has retained most of the former Assemblyman’s staff.
You can watch Crouch’s entire interview below: