Thomas J. Kirwan

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"Thomas Kirwan" redirects here. For the mayor of Galway, see Thomas Kirwan (mayor).

Thomas J. Kirwan (January 17, 1933 – November 28, 2011) was an American politician and member of the New York State Assembly. He epresented the 100th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Beacon, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, and the towns of Marlboro, Newburgh, Lloyd and Shawangunk. He was a native of, and lifelong resident of, the City of Newburgh, New York. Prior to his election to the Assembly, Kirwan served for 28 years with the New York State Police, retiring with the position of Lieutenant in the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He spent four years with the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force.[1]

Kirwin was born in 1933 in Newburgh, New York.[2] Kirwan first served in the State Assembly from 1994 to 2008 representing parts of Orange, Ulster and Dutchess counties. A Republican, he was narrowly defeated in 2008 by Democrat Frank Skartados by some 800 votes.[3] However, he recaptured the seat in 2010, beating Skartados by a razor thin margin of 15 votes.[4] The results of the election took over one hundred days to certify, and when completed on February 16, 2011 was the last legislative race in the United States to be decided.[5] The dramatic litigation over the recount occurred because the historic win eventually broke Speaker of the New York State Assembly Sheldon Silver's long-held Democratic supermajority in the Assembly Chamber by giving Assembly Republicans their 51st seat in the chamber, which would allow them to prevent the override of a gubernatorial veto.[6]

Kirwan had a reputation as a "reformer" after a 2007 lawsuit where he and Democratic State Senator Liz Krueger joined together to sue Silver, former Governor of New York George Pataki and then Senate Leader Joe Bruno over the infamous legislative dysfunction at the New York State Capitol in Albany, citing disenfranchisement of minority party members of both houses.[7] A pair of suits accused Senate and Assembly leadership of stifling minority legislators by not providing them equal resources for staff, withholding funds for member items, and making it impossible for minority legislators to have their bills heard in legislative committees for vote in their respective houses.[8] Although the plaintiffs were initially successful, because Kirwan lost his seat in 2008, appeals on the suit were never decided by the courts, and the New York State Legislature is still widely criticized by good government groups such as New York University's Brennan Center for Justice as "the most dysfunctional legislature in the United States of America".[9]

Kirwan, who had experienced heart trouble for several years, died of kidney failure on November 28, 2011, aged 78, at the Newburgh campus of St. Luke's-Cornwall Hospital. He was survived by his widow, Verna, two children, and two grandchildren. Gov. Cuomo scheduled a special election for March 20, 2012, to elect Kirwan's successor.[10][11][12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vielkind, Jimmy. "Tom Kirwan Likely Out, Head Still High". New York Observer. November 14, 2008
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Kemble, William (December 2, 2008). "It's official: Skartados unseats Kirwan". Daily Freeman. Retrieved January 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ Novinson, Michael. "Kirwan leads Assembly race after court decision". Times Herald Record. February 16, 2011
  5. ^ Gross, Hank. "Kirwan declared winner of Assembly race". February 16, 2011
  6. ^ Spector, Joseph. "Assembly Republicans set to gain power in Albany". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. February 17, 2011
  7. ^ Medina, Jennifer. "Censorship Is Alleged in Suit Against Leaders in Albany". New York Times. April 13, 2006
  8. ^ Hammond Jr., William F. "Suit threatened for change in State Capital". New York Sun. November 26, 2004
  9. ^ Esmond, Paul. "Krueger, Kirwan sue for equal treatment in Legislature". Legislative Gazette. February 22, 2005
  10. ^ Times Herald Record, November 29, 2011, page 4
  11. ^ Sullivan, John."State Assemblyman Tom Kirwan has died". Times Herald Record. November 28, 2011
  12. ^ Benjamin,Elizabeth. "RIP Assemblyman Kirwan". State of Politics. November 28, 2011
New York Assembly
Preceded by
Lawrence E. Bennett
New York State Assembly
96th District

1995–2002
Succeeded by
Nancy Calhoun
Preceded by
Roy J. McDonald
New York State Assembly
100th District

2003–2008
Succeeded by
Frank Skartados
Preceded by
Frank Skartados
New York State Assembly
100th District

2011
Succeeded by
Frank Skartados