Marcia Tuohey, a trailblazing leader in Orleans County, dies

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 August 2014 at 12:00 am

She was first woman to serve as Medina mayor, County Legislature chairwoman

File photo – In this photo from May 2013, Marcia Tuohey is pictured in Albany with State Sen. George Maziarz when she was recognized as a “Woman of Distinction” by the State Senate.

MEDINA – Marcia Tuohey, the first woman to serve as Medina’s mayor and also as chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, died earlier today when she was found home by family.

Tuohey has been a prominent local leader for about four decades. She retired from the Legislature on Dec. 31, 2005, but didn’t stay idle. She represented the county on the board of directors for Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. and was picked by her fellow board members to serve as their vice chairman.

She also has served on Medina’s Planning Board, and was vocal during the board’s meeting on Tuesday, which lasted nearly three hours.

“She was genuinely concerned about Orleans County,” said David Callard, the current Legislature chairman. “She was a true leader.”

Mrs. Tuohey served with style. She was known for her fashionable hats and outfits, and also for taking charge of a meeting.

“Even when she retired, she worked hard, often behind the scenes,” Callard said. “She had a very active life.”

While Legislature chairwoman, she pushed through a new fire training tower, a public safety building, renovations to the courthouse and Clerk’s Building, and upgrades to the Orleans County Marine Park. Mrs. Tuohey also was a cancer survivor, beating colorectal cancer about a decade ago.

In May 2013, she was invited to the state capitol to be recognized as a “Women of Distinction.”

“Marcia has been a mainstay in business and government in Orleans County for many years,” State Sen. George Maziarz said when Tuohey was recognized. “More that than though, she’s been a trailblazer for women who want to take an active role in improving their communities. She has worn many hats – literally and figuratively – but today our hats are off to her.”

Tuohey was first elected to the Medina Village Board in 1979. Prior to that she enjoyed an active business career in Medina for 30 years as the co-owner and operator of a nursing home, motel and restaurant, mobile home park, and rental properties. Her success can be attributed to a great aptitude for recognizing and meeting the needs of the community, and possessing a strong work ethic, Maziarz said.

In 1982, she was elected Medina mayor. She served in the high-profile post for eight years until being elected to the County Legislature in 1990, the first woman elected to the county board. After six years, she was picked by her peers on the seven-member body to serve as chairman of the Legislature from 1996. She stayed in the position for 10 years, the longest tenure of any Legislature chairman in county history.

Tuohey attended several of the recent Village Board meetings, giving her opinion about the possible dissolution of the village government. Tuohey suggested the Village Board make more cuts in the village budget to cut taxes.

Photo by Tom Rivers – Former Medina Mayor Marcia Tuohey attended a Village Board meeting in June and said village taxes could be reduced with more cuts in the village budget.

When Tuohey retired in December 2005 from the County Legislature, she was interviewed by The Daily News of Batavia.

She said she became involved in village government in 1979 when she was concerned about a proposed $10 million new sewer plant in Medina. She believed that was too much money. She helped the Village Board instead pursue a rehabilitation plan that upgraded the existing plant for $3 million.

She said she has tried to keep the taxpayers her focus in her 26 years of elected office, including as chairwoman of the Legislature.

She was asked in the interview what has been most rewarding about being an elected official.

“From my perspective, seeing things get done and accomplished, whether its programs or a new building or being involved with the development of an industrial park,” she told the newspaper. “My first loyalty has always been to the taxpayers. I believed in keeping taxes down. Take for instance last year (in 2005) they were lowered, even though the easiest thing would be to raise them. When no one shows up (at a hearing) you shouldn’t assume they are happy. We have a budget and programs should be funded, but not overfunded.”

Orleans Hub will have more on Marcia Tuohey in the coming days.