Pa. Rep. Coy says he won't seek re-election

January 28, 2004|by DON AINES

A fixture in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for more than two decades, state Rep. Jeff Coy, D-Franklin/Cumberland, announced Tuesday he will not seek a 12th term.

"It has been the honor of my life to serve the people of Franklin and Cumberland counties. I'm proud of what we've accomplished together over the years, and I am confident that this district will continue to grow and prosper," Coy said in a press release announcing his decision to retire from the seat he has held since winning a tight race over incumbent Harry Bittle in 1982.

The press release contained no other statements by Coy regarding his decision to retire or his plans for the future.

Several calls to his Harrisburg, Pa., office Monday and Tuesday were not returned.

Since he was first elected, Coy has been challenged often by Republicans who have sought to win back the seat in a district where about 60 percent of the registered voters are Republicans.


"Jeff is amazing in that he always had to walk a political tightrope," said state Rep. Patrick Fleagle, who has served across the political aisle from Coy for 15 years.

He said Coy balanced the interests of a mostly conservative district while advancing to leadership positions within the Democratic Party.

"Jeff would snatch victory from the jaws of political defeat," he said.

Coy leadership

Democratic colleagues elected Coy as majority caucus chairman in 1993. Since 1995, he has served as minority caucus secretary, the fourth-highest leadership position in the caucus.

He also is treasurer of the Joint State Government Commission, a research arm of the General Assembly, and has served on the Local Government Commission, according to the press release.

"Jeff Coy has worked tirelessly on behalf of the residents of the 89th District. His leadership and dedication will be missed not only in Franklin and Cumberland counties, but also in the halls of the state Capitol where he is an outstanding leader in the House of Representatives," Gov. Ed Rendell said in a statement contained in Coy's press release.

"I've always admired Jeff for his ability to cross party lines and find common ground among various points of view. He's the kind of leader you can call on to bring opposing sides together on tough issues," Rendell said.

"The departure of Jeff Coy in the state legislature will not go unnoticed. Perhaps his greatest strength is his tenacity to get the job done and ability to build bridges within and between party lines," Democratic Whip Rep. Mike Veon said in Coy's press release.

"I know Jeff has many years of community and public service left to give, but when he leaves the House it will be a real loss to his district, to our Democratic Caucus and to the Commonwealth," said Democratic House Leader Rep. William DeWeese.

"Jeff is a tremendous advocate in Harrisburg for the people of the 89th District," said Chambersburg Borough Council President William F. McLaughlin, a Republican. "He served it with honor and distinction for 22 years and will be hard to replace."

McLaughlin noted Coy's support for many projects within the district, particularly his efforts to secure funding for the Chambers-5 Business Park.

During his time in office, Coy has served nine years on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, including a term as its chairman.

He also is the most senior member of the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education, which oversees 14 state-owned universities, including Shippensburg University, from which Coy graduated in 1973.

Education has been a continuing interest of the legislator, according to his announcement. He led "the fight for quality preschool education, full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes and safer schools," the press release stated.

"I think Jeff's at a point in his life where he's done and proven just about everything he needs to in that career," Fleagle said.

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