Long Island Assemblyman James Conte, who used the bully pulpit in the Republican minority to push for a better system of organ and tissue donations and to improve education and the Island's environment, has died. He was 53.
Assembly Republican leader Brian Kolb praised Conte for two decades of leading Republican causes. Conte announced his retirement this year as he received cancer treatments.
Conte was the GOP floor leader, responsible for making sure the Republican views on bills and spending were heard. He often did it with humor and always with respect for Democratic colleagues.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver called Conte a friend and esteemed colleague. Conte was elected to represent Suffolk County in 1988.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called him a man of integrity and character.